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How many contact options should your website have?

Most websites get it right by providing at least the first three of these contact options:

  1. Telephone number
  2. Email address
  3. Contact form
  4. Address (physical or postal)
  5. Live chat

The more contact options you provide, the more likely you’ll receive contact from the potential customer.

 

Problems caused by limited contact options available on a website

The image below shows two contact options available on their contact page – email and address

 

Different options on your website contact page

What happens if someone emails them and that email isn’t received (for example, it goes to junk mail or is stripped out at the server level)?

That’s potential business lost very quickly because the emailer never gets a response.

What if the person wants to call them?

Would someone go to the bother of writing to them at their physical address?

The strategy above is very wrong.

Compare that to what we provide on our website …

A1WebStats contact page options

 

Let’s look at each individual contact option and why it’s important …

 

Telephone number as a website contact option

Larger businesses tend to avoid including a telephone number on their website because, to them, it means they have to supply resources that would handle the flood of incoming calls.

It’s a really stupid strategy and annoys customers immensely.

Smaller businesses that don’t supply a telephone number normally do it for these reasons:

  1. They don’t have someone who can easily answer the calls.
  2. They really do think that they shouldn’t be so easily available to their customers or potential customers.

There’s no excuse for having no telephone number on a website, when there are these options available to handle incoming calls to a number shown on the website:

  1. Call answering service – this has an associated cost to have the calls answered quickly by an external service, but it will create a more professional image to the caller.
  2. Divert to mobile – not perfect, but at least the call should get answered, or at least go to the voicemail of the mobile.
  3. Divert to voicemail – this isn’t ideal but the caller at least feels that their message will be picked up on and then responded to.

 

Email address as a website contact option

Some businesses don’t like to provide an email address because they worry about being spammed.

That’s a legitimate concern.

However, by using an email address solely for the purpose of website enquiries, all those emails (including spam) will go to one place and can be easily controlled.

We use our hello@a1webstats.com as a general email address and have a simple process three times a day:

  1. Check hello@a1webstats.com for incoming emails that need a response.
  2. Check the junk mail folder for that email address (in case anything slips through to there).

It’s really no trouble at all because the email filters remove most of the junk.

Another reason for including an email address as a contact option is so that it caters for the communication preference of the website visitor.  Many people like to send an email because it’s easy for them to cc themselves in for future reference.

 

Contact form as a website contact option

Some websites think it’s sufficient to have either an email address or a contact form, but not both.

You need both because people will have a preference in how they like to make contact.

Also, a contact form submission is slightly more likely to get through to you than if someone used just an email address – purely because your internal systems are more likely to trust a completed contact form than someone who has emailed you.

Including a contact form also provides the opportunity to understand more about the person who made contact with you, as you can see from our guide about the importance of linking enquiries back to the visitor path of each enquirer.

 

Address as a website contact option

Some businesses don’t include an address because they:

  1. Don’t want to look too small/work from home
  2. Are deliberately hiding something.

Having no address can create distrust in the potential enquirer.

If the business is based from home and feels that their potential customers won’t respond well to a home-based business, then there is always the option of buying a virtual address (that can often take your business post as well).  Costs for those typically range from £25-50 per month.

 

Live chat as a website contact option

All businesses should have a live chat option.

It doesn’t have to be paid for (for example, tawk.to is a great system and is free).

Many businesses avoid live chat because there’s a lack of resources that would be quick to respond to someone who was live chatting via the website.

This is particularly the case when there are very few people within the business.

But live chat is powerful and people do like the option to quickly get their questions answered by someone within the business.

Picture a scenario where someone goes to your website and doesn’t find a live chat option but they do find a responsive one when they go to your competitors website … it’s obvious who is going to build a better rapport with that potential customer.

In a business that has a few staff who could feasibly help with incoming live chat enquiries, this is how it normally works (and this can be done via free live chat systems such as tawk.to) …

  1. Multiple people are ‘available’ on live chat.
  2. When someone needs to be away/doing something else, they make themselves unavailable on live chat, but there are others who can pick up on any chats.
  3. When a chat comes in, someone starts the conversation. If they realise they can’t answer the questions effectively, they can ask someone else in the business to connect to the chat and take over.  Or, if no-one is available, they can take a message to ensure that the enquirer is responded to in the hours ahead.

Where live chat is not so easy is when there are only a few people in the business.  If people are focused on work and a live chat comes in, then it can destroy their productivity for what may be a basic chat that would ideally have been answered by someone else.

For this reason, some very small businesses utilise live chat reception services who take the initial enquiry and tell the enquirer that someone will contact them back.   This works in a very similar way to a phone answering service.

Some businesses go down the path of using automated chat bots to try and answer the questions of visitors.  Sometimes they’re OK but most of the time they’re annoying and no better than the phone systems that make people go through various options before they can get to talk to a human.

There’s no doubt though that live chat is very powerful because it will please people who have questions to ask but don’t, at this stage, want to divulge their own contact details (via email or contact form or phone) and are initially looking for answers before they decide if they want to further engage with the company.