Thursday 28 February 2013

Dialogue for Estate Agents - value for money?

Newspaper advertising, magazine advertising, web advertising, leaflets, flyers, door-drops, mail-drops, posters, portal promotion, sponsorship, web design, SEO and PR and so it goes on; just some of the monthly expenditure most agents are faced with. Decisions, decisions!

Here we attempt to place Dialogue in the context of this expenditure; but before we make comparisons, let's just take a moment to analyse just what all the above are designed to do: in the main they're to drive business your way. And how do we define 'your way' in 2013? 

Via your website.

And what are your potential clients looking for when they come to your website? The answer to this critical question is almost always: 'should I choose these agents to sell/let my property?' (and that, of course, is where Dialogue comes in).

Back to comparisons: Dialogue costs, at the very most, £170 per month (reducing for agents with multiple branches). How about the list in the first paragraph? Well, we know nearly as well as you do how much the average agent spends in a month on these, from leaflets and door-drops (at between £500 and £1500 a thousand) to mainstream print advertising (a half page in the Evening Standard in the £000's), web design is never less than £300 a day, and it's the same for outsourced PR. All to drive traffic to your door, and today's door? 

Your home page!
So it can look like this... 

Or it can look like this*...

The choice is yours!

* Shepherds have redesigned their home page around the core concept of verified (and therefore credible) client opinions. Has it worked? We'll leave the last word to David Simpson of Shepherds...

Saturday 23 February 2013

Hotels - why adopt Dialogue NOW?

Here's the answer - in our clients' own words... and under each comment an example review from their websites... 

Competition and Rankings – Dialogue has been proven to increase rankings and scores on OTAs, in absolute terms and against your competitors

Since using HelpHound's Dialogue service we've seen a sharp increase in positive reviews on TripAdvisor and” Christopher Nevile, CEO, The Lincoln Hotel

Showing verified reviews on our website influences guests when they decide to book with us against our competitors.” Fred Bartlett, GM, The Rockwell

Credibility – gained from HelpHound's independence from your business, also means showing enough reviews, and reviews that are current – it’s a simple case of ‘the longer you wait…’

Deflecting negatives away from public sites…

One of the really appealing things about Dialogue is the opportunity it presents to manage any negative reviews before they appear online.” Chris Meyler, owner, The Kempfield

Direct Bookings
We're getting more direct bookings as a result.” Christopher Nevile 

Now, more than ever before, there are so many reasons to adopt Dialogue, and, with no contract for the first 6 months, there are even fewer reasons not to!

Estate Agents - why adopt Dialogue NOW?

Here's the answer - in our clients' own words... and under each comment an example review from their websites...

Competition – Dialogue has been proven to gain business

Using HelpHound's Dialogue service has given us an edge against our competitors and differentiates our website in a very crowded marketplace.” David Simpson, MD, Shepherds

Credibilitygained from HelpHound's independence from your business, also means showing enough reviews, and reviews that are current – it’s a simple case of ‘the longer you wait…’

"Independence and credibility; it's not something we could have done ourselves

and Conversionfrom visit to enquiry and from valuation to instruction - Dialogue is proven to aid conversion…

we wouldn't be paying for it if it didn't." Duncan Pate, MD, Castles

Managing negatives – essential in these days of proliferating review sites and social media…

To have the opportunity to engage with clients before the reviews are posted, so as to be able to address any issues.” Roger Wilkinson, MD, Wilkinson Grant

Now, more than ever before, there are so many reasons to get Dialogue working for you, and, with no contract for the first 6 months, there's one less reason not to!

Friday 22 February 2013

Our own clients' opinions

 With the second anniversary of Dialogue in December 2012 we thought it would be timely to begin asking our clients for their opinions. You can see the first half-a-dozen on our new home page and more will appear over the coming weeks and months.

Obviously (and ironically) we are unable to provide Dialogue™ type verification, but we think you will agree that providing links to their websites (where you can see Dialogue in operation) is the next best thing!

We are immensely proud of what we have achieved, the developments we have made to Dialogue over the two years it has been delivering for our clients, and, above all else, the value we have been able to add for our clients.

Thursday 21 February 2013

Dialogue for Estate Agents - winning the response

Since we launched Dialogue to estate agents at the beginning of last summer we have learned a lot - and a big part of that learning was 'how to generate the response from clients'. 

As most readers of this blog will know, up until last year the overwhelming majority of our clients came from the hospitality industry, and it's a different ball-game - where the focus is on improving reputations across sites like TripAdvisor - as well as driving business from their websites.

For estate agents the emphasis is much more on the front end: getting more initial enquiries through your site and then reinforcing the sale - aiding conversion. But with much less raw material - far fewer clients than hotels have guests.

So what have we learned?

That the agent/client relationship is far closer than the hotel/guest relationship (in the majority of cases). This provides the key: if Dialogue is embedded in the whole sales process it is possible to approach a 100% response rate (our best hotel client achieves 12% - brilliant for a hotel, and far and away better than conventional CRM at +- 0.5%).
How was the response achieved? By following our guidelines to the letter: 
  1. showing reviews (Dialogue) and Dynamic Display prominently on the homepage
  2. telling clients during the sales/letting process that they will be invited to review
  3. inviting the review before completion or immediately after
  4. sending a personalised invitation to review from the person the client knows
  5. following that invitation with a phone call
At first glance this may seem a bit long-winded, but when we examined the process further with clients we realised it wasn't: embedding the concept of reviews into the sale made that sale more likely (potential clients felt reassured by it) and, because there simply are not that many deals per negotiator per month, the workload was light. In addition, feedback suggests that clients actively welcome the invitation to review.

By following the five simple steps outlined above you will get...
  • Great reviews - in volume
  • Enhanced client loyalty
  • Early warning of any client dissatisfaction (in private)
And much more besides: a constant stream of client feedback, great material for your marketing and PR, enhanced staff morale (many clients mentioned this specifically). For more client opinions like this one see our own homepage.

Friday 15 February 2013

Dynamic Display - enhanced

We have worked with clients David Phillips - the largest specialist supplier of furniture, appliances and related services to the UK’s property industry - to further enhance Dynamic Display, to bring their clients' opinions front and centre of their homepage

Apart from the design, visitors are now able to click on the heading in Dynamic Display and see the full review in a pop-up, without leaving the main webpage...

 We think both the look and presentation work well - if you would like this for your website, please contact Karen Hutchings - or call her on 0207 100 2277 to discuss

Simple question - simpler answer

Posted by today by Rob Fugetta, a leading expert on brand advocacy, on iMedia

Answer:  Dialogue, of course

See what our clients say here - see results for 2012 here

Wednesday 13 February 2013

The secret of Dialogue's success

Getting people who don't write reviews to write reviews

To the casual observer it may appear that the whole world is writing reviews - except, possibly, you!

Wherever you look on the web - reviews - and in their millions. And we're all influenced by them. Most businesses have, by now, been reviewed somewhere, and because Google loves reviews, most customers of those businesses are seeing those reviews...

So, first, let's look at who is writing those reviews. And the simple answer, even for massive sites like TripAdvisor, is 'a tiny minority'. How tiny? We have a hotel client which checks out, on average, 200 guests a day - that's 73,000 a year; in the last 12 months they have received 350 reviews on TripAdvisor - that's one in 210 guests (or less than half of one per cent). It's the same for estate agents - a large national chain that transacts in the multiple thousands every year - has received less than 30 reviews on AllAgents (almost all of them 1*!), less than one review for every five of their branches.

Why are they being written?

For two reasons: first, those that write are part of the even smaller minority of 'helpful citizens', people who genuinely want to help their fellow consumer (this category write genuine opinions, they can usually be identified by the number of reviews they have written and the fact that their reviews cover the full range from 'great' to 'awful'). The second is the dissatisfied customer: they only write the very occasional review - and they're invariably one or two star; they are using the review site to communicate their displeasure with the service they received - their expectations weren't met and they want to tell the business - the fact that their 'review' will be read by potential customers of that business rarely comes into it. And here's the crucial point - a dissatisfied customer is over 15 times more likely to write a review than a satisfied one.

What impression is this creating? 

Visitors to these sites don't do the sums referred to above - they read half-a-dozen reviews and form an opinion, they look at rankings and scores, and they are very easily influenced away from a business - it's simple human nature.


That's why our headline is so important - 'Getting people who don't write reviews to write reviews' - businesses, if they are to enable their potential customers to get a fair impression of just how good they are must be proactive - they must get the silent majority to voice their opinions - and the obvious place is on their own website. Not only will this divert negatives to them to manage in private, but it will enhance their reputation right across the web - one of our hotel clients is now achieving a response rate of over 12% - and scoring brilliantly on and TripAdvisor - but most important of all showing the world just how great they are on their own website (and getting direct bookings as a result).


By building reviews into the core of your presentation to your client - it should be mentioned all along the journey, from first meeting '...we ask all our clients to write a review, and we publish them all...' to telling them, preferably face-to-face, that '...we will be writing to ask you for your own opinion, and it's important for us that you do let us have it...' - we have clients who do this very effectively and their efforts are rewarded, not just with a steady flow of great reviews, but with business.

Monday 11 February 2013

Dialogue to combat the hard times

Hotels continue to report how great a struggle it is to turn a profit in these difficult times - and you don't need us to tell you why. But sometimes it is easy to focus on the 'warm and fuzzy' aspects of Dialogue - guest feedback (invaluable as that is) - rather than its potential impact on a hotel's bottom line, so here goes...

First - what have we learned from our hotel clients?
  • That almost every potential guest (however they may book or are booked) checks the hotel's own website. This is reinforced by clients' own website analytics and data from across the web, we know of one hotel whose website receives over 30,000 visits a month - 30,000 potential guests. Why is this important? Because it gives hotels the opportunity to convince a guest to book, there and then. But only if the potential guest is given all the information they require, and this includes credible reviews
  • If the potential guest is not given this information they will certainly look elsewhere (TripAdvisor are on record as stating that the average potential guest checks seven, yes seven, websites before booking). And 'elsewhere' will certainly include the OTAs
  • Once a potential guest leaves a hotel's website to check reviews they are unlikely to return - they will almost certainly end up booking elsewhere (return rates appear to be less than 5%)
Properly implemented and supported, Dialogue has the potential to...
  • Satisfy your potential guests' requirement to see credible and verified reviews
  • Increase direct booking - saving you OTA commissions
  • Increase, over time, your rankings and scores on TripAdvisor and the OTAs
  • Enable you to drive up RevPar
The last point may need some amplification: we personally visit dozens of hotels every month, from 20 beds to 750 beds plus, from 1* to 5* deluxe. We quiz them in-depth and we form our own impressions of their marketability; it continues to astonish us how very similar establishments are able to justify wildly differing rates. Why? Because of the way they manage their online presences. 

Would you be happy to book? (and note the 'helpful' votes from other potential guests)

At the end of the day, the hotels that succeed online succeed financially, it's very nearly as simple as that, and proactively managing reviews is a massive part of succeeding online. 

The Answer

All hotels adopt one the following strategies...
  1. Leave it to TripAdvisor, and the other OTAs
  2. Do it themselves
  3. Get a proven system to do it for them
We would suggest that the days of adopting (1) above are now over, that adopting (2) as some have done can be expensive and lacks credibility in the eyes of the overwhelming majority of consumers (and in some very high-profile cases has backfired horribly). That leaves (3)...

Get Dialogue working for you now. At the moment new clients are not being asked to sign a contract for the first six months - so the financial risk is minimal. Just contact us or call your business member advisor and get Dialogue working - and start to see the results for yourself.