Web Site at Your Service

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An online concierge named Kim takes center screen when online visitors arrive at the Web site for Tampa, Fla.-based home builder Smith Family Homes. Judging from industry accolades and the increase in traffic the site has experienced, this virtual concierge is doing her job well.

January 01, 2007

An online concierge named Kim takes center screen when online visitors arrive at the Web site for Tampa, Fla.-based home builder Smith Family Homes. Judging from industry accolades and the increase in traffic the site has experienced, this virtual concierge is doing her job well.

Frustrated by what had been an underwhelming amount of visitor traffic to their Web site, Smith Family Homes decided to take action. "We asked our Web developer to create a Web site for us that would make an online visitor want to stay and find out more about what Smith Family Homes has to offer them," says Marcus Smith, regional vice president for Smith Family Homes.

 

The result is a Web site with a concierge and other interactive elements that has not only significantly boosted online traffic but has also garnered awards. "Ever since the new Web site launched, we have been thrilled with the number of closings resulting from it," says Smith. The Web site recently won the 2006 Southeast Building Conference (SEBC) Gold EXCEL Award for Best Website for a Builder. The re-design of the Web site has also improved page dwell times and is attracting more than 8,000 unique visitors every month, according to the firm.

"Kim helps people feel comfortable," says Rob Neumann, president and CEO of Customer Velocity, a Web development firm based in The Woodlands, Texas, that has been working with Smith Family Homes for several years. "Kim is approachable. It's like having a friendly conversation or seeing a familiar friendly face as you navigate through the Web site," says Neumann, adding that the concierge was designed to appeal to a target market of 40- to 50-year-olds who may be thinking about retirement or looking for a second home. "We wanted to make things interesting enough that visitors would stay and come back to visit again," says Neumann.

Created utilizing green screen technology, Kim appears in other areas of the Web site and offers guidance to visitors. Interactive elements allow visitors to click and view variations of home elevations, floor plans and lot locations offered throughout the Smith Family Homes communities.

The firm's resting on the laurels of success the concierge concept has brought to the Web site; an upgrade has already been created. The upgrade, which allows Smith Family Homes home buyers to view construction progress photos of their homes and send construction progress photos to their family members and friends, is currently in the beta testing stage.

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