Have you ever gone to a website, and for whatever reason, felt the need to actually contact the organization? You may have a product or service question, or you may have a technical issue that needs resolution. Or perhaps a billing error that needs to be fixed.
Unfortunately, many websites have chosen to severely restrict your ability to pick up the phone and have a simple conversation. And those that do allow it often choose to buffer direct contact with “voicemail jail” and lengthy hold times, in order to improve the palatability of a web-based service encounter.
Examples of this are everywhere: go to Google.com or Amazon.com, and look for a phone number. Try Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Then look at theses sites again and try to find an actual contact name or a non-generic email address. While there are good reasons for doing this, including a reduced cost-per transaction, most prospects and customers tend not to think of themselves as “transactions”, whose cost should be reduced.
When organizations insulate themselves in this way, it breeds other dysfunction, including client frustration, movement to competitors, and an increased use of social media for complaints and queries. The end result is a tarnished brand, and possibly lost sales.
Organizations have a wide range of options when it comes to client contact via the web:
- phone number and contact form/email on all page footers
- phone number on home page
- general phone number (and contact form) on contact us page
- specific names, numbers, and emails for all external contact points
- social media monitoring and direct response
- web chat
- no contact information provided at all, perhaps with a customer service “knowledge base”
This week’s action plan: No matter what choice your organization makes, there are implications with respect to cost, sales, and brand. Too often, organizations “fall into” their contact strategy, without considering these factors – or the alternatives. Look at your website and decide on the strategy you want, then make the appropriate changes.
A better action plan: Look at your website through the eyes of your prospects, clients, and other key users: what do they want? This week, throw caution to the wind and make it easier for others to engage with you … on their terms.
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