THE RISE AND RISE OF ONLINE ENQUIRY FORMS
CIM WEST – COMMENTS – ONLINE ENQUIRY FORMS
As reported last Autumn, a CIM contributor commented on the fact that online enquiry forms are seemingly taking over from the provision of contact details on company web sites.
It says, and we quote, ‘as a customer often all you want to do is pick up the phone or at least have an email conversation with a real person. Yes, online enquiry forms are useful and some people will prefer them – so why not just add a number and e.mail alongside the form and let the customer choose? The fear is however, that by omitting contact details some companies (not all) want to be able to choose how and when they deal with, and respond to, enquiries on their own terms – not when and how the customer would like them to. How frustrating is it, when you have an issue with any kind of product or service and you’re presented with countless FAQs and help forums, when all you want to do is actually speak to someone? It goes without saying that cost has a huge influence on this approach – but a high customer churn rate certainly won’t help that bottom line either’.
OUR TAKE ON THESE OBSERVATIONS
We agree with these comments and it is not only customers who must surely become frustrated by the inability to a) find a contact number and b) have to fill in a form when they have a complex enquiry. We ourselves have occasion to contact companies in order to seek lucrative commercial partnership opportunities for our clients and have encountered this approach. Both our clients and ourselves have found that completing an enquiry form often results in no response whatsoever. In addition, in cases where there is a quoted customer service general telephone number, there are no details at all regarding corporate enquiries.
Like CIM, we appreciate many companies simply do not have the time and resources to take a step back and view the customer experience with total objectivity – meaning that improvements to any customer or enquirer touch point can be difficult to identify, let along implement. However, as our personal experience has shown, good opportunities could be missed and it certainly cannot be good PR to be seen to be either unresponsive (in the case of unanswered on line enquiry form submissions) or ultra protective in just providing these with no pertinent telephone numbers and e.mail addresses. So our advice is:
- If you are providing an on line enquiry form then ensure it is someone’s responsibility to answer it promptly.
- Include a phone number and e.mail address with the on line form so a customer can choose the method they prefer.
- Include a corporate phone number or direct dial numbers so professional callers can be properly filtered without taking up the valuable time of customer service staff.
Marketing advice for Gloucestershire business on the rise of online enquiry forms is to ensure that if you are using one, it must be regularly monitored.