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Is your web contact form hurting your business?

Let’s talk bad customer service when on the interwebs.

Did you know it can take six to eight touches before a client decides to buy from you?

Sometimes those touches come in the form of interacting in your Facebook group or reading your weekly newsletter or taking part in your recent challenge.

On the flip side, there are times when a person knows that they want to work with you, but have a few questions before getting started.

This is an extremely captive audience and this is your chance to WOW that person.

Unfortunately….

I see so many business owners squander this golden opportunity because of a simple, easy-to-fix problem – overlooking their Website Contact Form.

How many times have you sent an inquiry on a web form, as instructed to by the website itself, only to hear nothing in return?

Or a service provider asks you to fill out a short form before scheduling a consultation. Upon clicking the submit button, you get a polite ‘thank you, we’ll in touch within 24-48 hours to schedule your consult’ response. And five days goes by and you realize you’ve only heard **crickets**?

If that sounds all too familiar, know that you’re not alone.

As a business owner, you can quickly and easily set yourself apart from other coaches, designers, and creatives by following these simple steps for the contact form on your website:

  1. Make sure your contact form works. That means taking the time to test it upon addition to your website. It isn’t the most fun activity, but business isn’t all sexy all of the time. (Ok there, band-aid’s off)
  2. Make sure the response time listed is accurate. Only list 48 hours or 3-5 business days if that’s what you can commit to. If you can’t commit to any time frame, then don’t list it (and maybe consider removing the contact form from your site altogether).
  3. Include a contact phone number, if you’re open to cold calls of that nature.
  4. Add an auto-reply message. In this automated message, you can let people know of the intended response time, include a list of answers to frequent questions, suggest that they connect with you via another method, such as in your Facebook group.
  5. Make sure there is a process in place for how your team handles these types of inquiries. Expectations and actions to consider include:
    1. Does the right team member know it’s her responsibility to respond to these emails? Or does ‘anyone who’s available’ grab the email?
    2. What is the expected response time for each inquiry? Within 24 hours? 2 business days?
    3. Are there specific email response scripts to use for certain inquiries?
    4. Does the new contact get added to your CRM?
  6. Make sure your contact form keeps working. It’s on the list again because it is that important! Especially on WordPress website, where contact forms are frequently third-party plugin-controlled, an update to the core WP software can break a plugin. I don’t say this to scare you – I believe knowledge and awareness are empowering. Once you know the cause of a problem, you can find the solution.
    It’s a good practice to test the contact form after a WP software update or every 1-2 months.
    Or, consider listing an email address in addition to having the contact form available. The email address can be general, such as hello@yourdomain.com. Then, make sure that the person who manages that inbox, whether that is you, your assistant or client care specialist, is clear on the process and expectations (a wink and a nudge to step 5 above).
  7. Make sure you love on the people who reach out. The inquiries may not always lead directly to a new client, which is okay. You may wind up with a raving fan instead, who recommends you to any and everyone in her network, just because you took the time to thoughtfully respond and point her in the right direction.

Easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy, right? Good!

And now a little story on how bad response etiquette can lead to a bad reputation…

Years ago, I attended a webinar for a WordPress trainer. The live event was free and ended with a pitch for her paid course. All standard stuff.

Where the ball got dropped was that at the end of the webinar and in the many sales emails following, she said to email her with any questions. I had a few so I did – three times. Twice through email and once through her web contact form (in case the emails weren’t getting through).

I never heard back.

But I did continue to receive the FOMO-inducing ‘cart is closing’, ‘don’t miss out’ emails to sign up for her course.

All I could think was ‘if you could just answer my questions, I could make a decision and that would probably be to sign up and give you my money’.

The launch came and went and I didn’t sign up for the paid training.

Instead, I developed my WP skills on my own and through courses on CreativeLive.

And the trainer, well, even a few years later, I don’t hold her in high regard as a quality service provider that operates with integrity versus just looking to make money. She still has her courses and services, so my experience could have been an anomaly. For me, though, that bad experience stuck.

Remember, as a business owner, an inquiry sent through your contact form could be someone’s first touch with you, a first step to building the know-like-trust factor. A lack of response damages the trust part of the equation quicker that you would think.

With something that may seem insignificant to you, you’ve already not kept that promise to get back to them.

And if you can’t do it with a simple email exchange, how will it be once we’ve have paid you?

What areas of inbox support and contact management do you feel need a refresh in your business? Declare it below. I’m listening.

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