If you have followed this blog for any length of time, you will know that I highlight individuals and companies that standout for their digital user experience—good or bad. One of my pet peeves is when a company fails to respond to an inquiry made through the “Contact Us” form on their website. Isn’t that the stated purpose of the form on your site? A user fills it out and says, “I need you to contact me for _______.” How hard is it for any business that is offering that means of contact to monitor inquiries and respond?
Here is my three-part formula for having a successful contact page:
- Setup a fully functional contact form. (Not all companies do.)
- Setup an automated response that alerts the user that their inquiry was received. (By my count, only about 25% of companies have this feature.)
- Setup an internal mechanism to ensure that SOMEONE ACTUALLY FOLLOWS UP! (By my count, less than 10% of companies do this.)
It’s really not that hard. But you have to commit to consistently responding to virtual inquiries. As I write this, we are in lockdown—self-quarantining and working from home unless you are an essential worker. I suspect this will mean companies will be receiving even more digital inquiries than they had been before. Is your company even listening? How are you ensuring that you are?
I recently filled out “Contact Us” forms for four attorneys in Valdosta, Georgia. My longtime friend and attorney had retired, so I needed the help of a new attorney to make adjustments to a will. I only received a response from one of them—David Sandbach. I don’t know whether Mr. Sandbach is the best choice for what I need, but he is the one that I will work with for no other reason than his firm was capable enough to follow up on my inquiry.
Similarly, I recently was working on a project to virtualize a physical conference. As a follower of Mike Brown—who always has great content around the art of strategic planning (Check him out here: www.brainzooming.com.)—I remembered he had written a post talking about virtualizing a meeting. So, I decided to send an inquiry through the “Contact Us” form on the Brainzooming website. In less than 24 hours, I received a call from Kathleen Donald, a member of Mike’s staff, following up on my question. That’s what makes a great user experience.
Here’s a thought: Once a week, instruct someone on your team to send a message through your “Contact Us” form. Then make sure it gets the appropriate attention. The most common mistake companies make regarding these inquires is not following up because no one knows an inquiry was submitted. How is that possible? Simple. When the “Contact Us” form was configured, perhaps many years ago, it was setup to forward inquiries to a specific email address. Chances are that email address is no longer valid. Even if it is, without someone watching it, any inquiries will go unanswered. Yes, I understand many of these inquiries don’t amount to much. But do you really want to take the chance of not answering when a big opportunity for new revenue could be knocking on your virtual door?
Put good digital systems in place, trust they are working for you, but verify their efficacy.
Also published on Medium.