All companies on their website have an About Us or Contact Us section. However, not all companies provide their phone contact information on their website and instead ask you to fill out a web form or email them if you want to contact them.
This unfortunately sends wrong messages. The message could be construed as any of the following:
- Sorry, we are too busy that we don’t want you to bother us by calling us.
- We don’t value direct communication between humans, we want you to write to us even though you may be a prospect with a willingness to buy.
- You are too many and we don’t have the bandwidth to answer your questions, most of which we could deem to be stupid anyways – so we only want to talk to the serious folks who take the time to write to us though we will not commit if we will ever get back to them either.
In a world where people value authenticity and human touch, you are essentially creating hurdles for people so that they do not communicate with you. In one of my previous posts, I had written about email and 7% – how you lose 93% of your communication power when you use email as the communication channel.
With a web form or email, there is no feedback as to when one will get a reply as opposed to getting to talk to a human being – customers/prospects usually have a question that they want answers for now, not later. Would these companies say this to a prospect in a face-to-face meeting? But unfortunately these companies are sending the wrong message to the millions that are on the internet that they will never have a chance to have a face-to-face conversation with.
I understand the scalability issue, but that is not a prospect’s or a customer’s problem – that is the company’s problem. Airlines list their contact phone numbers, banks do, telephone companies do. But some of these companies have the long phone trees which we all have come to hate so much that websites such as gethuman.com have cropped up. But all of this is better than not providing a contact number for your customers/prospects to reach you. Hiding your phone contact information behind a web form or email is outright insulting to your site visitors.
Now this is applicable not just at the organization level. It is very applicable to us as product managers. Whenever, I talk to my prospects/customers or meet with them, I hand out my business card, my direct number, my email address – if they call me, I want to talk to them. There is nothing more important that I am doing that is more important than talking to customers. I am not saying that I do customer support for them, but I want to hear their concerns, questions etc. and make sure that I get the right person to help them. In 99% of the cases, the caller is happy that I am going to transfer the call to the person best to help them. I thank them for having called me.
Be authentic, be human and more importantly be reachable. If we as consumers get offended by the lack of contact information, I will guarantee you that our customers are as well. There is a lot of downside and no upside for hiding your phone number. After all, our jobs exist only to serve our customers.
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Image: Courtesy of geekologie.com
5 thoughts on “Contact Us but facilitate it ….”
It is so incredibly ridiculous how companies believe there are “common practices” for contact us information. It may be common practice among designers but I doubt it’s common practice among buyers. The contact us information should be easily identifiable in 5 seconds or less. How’s that for a common practice?
As someone who visits a lot of customers, I get distraught when the contact us page doesn’t (accurately) list all office locations and current phone numbers.
Nice post. I wonder what your thoughts are on IM type products. I’m considering implementing this on some of my online products, but worried that the sales team will just be pinged by millions of potential customers of which only 3 would buy the product
I am not sure why you think millions of potential customers would ping you (maybe a good problem to have) and only 3 would buy your product If true, this is very scary if only 3 out of a million people who ping sales buy.
On the other note, if a million people are going to ping your sales people, you could have any one of the following common problems:
1) Your website is not clear on what you offer that they have to call to talk to your sales people
2) They don’t know how much your product costs and also if there is group discounting if they buy multiple licenses.
3) Your product mix (if you have one) is confusing to them that they need to talk to a human being to figure it out.
4) They don’t know how to buy (those 3 in a million who wanted to buy :-)) – you are not offering self service that they have to call sales.
So just making your contact information is not going to solve your problem. Make sure that your website clearly communicates what you offer, how much it costs and how to buy. Implement an exhaustive FAQ maybe?