The Contact Contract

You can do some great public relations and marketing work for your company, getting that target audience interested and excited about you and flocking to your website. But if you fumble the most critical step – getting the customer connected to you – all that effort goes down the drain.

Sadly, that’s what too many companies do when it comes to the “Contact Us” page on their website. They seem to be encouraging their customer to get in touch, but then they fail to close that final loop, to react to a customer’s outreach in a timely and responsive way.

Maybe they offer a phone number for contact. Except no one answers the call, and the customer ends up in an alien voice mail system with no logical options. Or an email address, but that mailbox apparently is never checked.

Or the worst, where the only option is a fill-in-the-blanks form that a customer just submits and then just hopes for the best. My personal rate of success with these is somewhere below three percent, and I can only remember one time that I received a worthwhile response within 24 hours. I wanted to send a fruit basket to the person who responded, just to say thanks.

The majority of the time, all of these techniques amount to the same thing: sending the customer into a black hole and losing the chance to close a sale and create a fan. And in this age when people are prone to registering every minor disappointment with a company via social media, it can pose a reputation risk as well.

It’s up to marketers to demand a say in the way the “contact us” contacts are routed and dealt with. If they’re routed to the sales department only, salespeople can get busy and ignore or overlook them, or under-prioritize them in light of other things going on.

The phone call should be answered, or specifically routed to a special voice mailbox with an appropriate message. The email or submission from the website should be delivered to the most responsive person in the company. And all should be responded to within 24 hours. Even if you just confirm to the caller or sender that you got their message and are working on it, get back to them as quickly as possible. Then, of course, follow through on that.

Remember, you didn’t invest in all that image building just to have it torpedoed by something like this that is so easily fixed.