We all have one. Go to any business website and hunt down the Contact page, and what you’ll find is always the same: a contact form with required fields to fill out to say hello. The contact form is a basic tool of customer service, and helps streamline the response process.
It’s also overused and can come across as pushy. Many businesses offer the contact form exclusively—meaning it’s the only way to contact them. Alternately, they may offer a phone number as well. But with the specter automated phone menus looming over the telephone, who wants to close the browser and dial a number? The result is that customers are forced through the contact form funnel, even if what they were really looking for was an email address.
Without a doubt, contact forms are incredibly useful. We have one of our own. The advantages to a business are huge: they control the way in which customers contact the organization, requiring them to provide crucial information like account number or product type. This prevents a game of back-and-forth which can waste time and aggravate customers.
But sometimes the contact form is the aggravation. When developing a client website, we always recommend including a direct email address in addition to the form. This allows the customer to make their own choice whether to fill in the required boxes or send a simple email. And that’s a good thing for four reasons:
- Some customers hate forms. It might be inconvenient when a customer emails you and leaves out a crucial detail, but what matters more: your convenience or your customer’s happiness? Some questions don’t fit well with your predetermined form fields, and some customers simply don’t like forms. Offering a direct email address lets them choose the communication method that works best for them.
- Email seems more personal. Filling out a form feels an awful lot like going to the DMV—not exactly an experience you want to invoke. When customers see that you offer a direct email address, it’s one more point of human contact. It makes you look more open and friendly, even if the address goes to the same inbox as the contact form.
- Not all inquiries should go to the sales/customer service team. This is a huge one that many business owners overlook. Contact forms are generally designed with either existing customers or prospects in mind. Accordingly, they funnel to either the sales team, the support team or both. But not everyone who wants to contact your business is a customer. What about the reporter doing a story on your new product? What about the vendor offering a lower price on a B2B service? Shuffling these contacts through the form wastes your sales team’s time and increases the likelihood that important inquiries get lost in the cracks.
- Most will use the form anyway. Some business owners seem to fear that adding an email address on their website will lead to a flood of confusing, angry and vague emails. In most cases this is unlikely. The majority of customers still use the form, which is large, visible and convenient, rather than scanning for an email address to write a message in a separate tab.
From a customer service point of view, the form-but-no-email approach doesn’t add up. It saves you or your support team a very small amount of hassle, while creating a huge barrier to a variety of contacts. Offering your email address may not be a big deal to most customers, but to those few who need or prefer a direct line it’s a zero-cost way to go the extra mile.
EverSpark’s suggestion is to offer both your phone number and a working email address either above or to the side of your contact form—not buried way down below. It’s one more way to show that your door is open.
What does your Contact page look like? Do you offer an email address?
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