Dealing with Customer Enquiries on Your Website

By: Nick Wood

Whatever product or service you market on your website, you undoubtedly receive any number of enquiries from both your existing and potential customers. How well do you handle these communications? Do you even want to receive questions from your web customers in the first place? Sales are at stake here, so let us look at this issue.

If you equate a sales orientated website with a bricks and mortar shop, (and it is my suggestion that that is exactly what it is, in the cyber age), then I would ask you to equate an email or message from a visitor, as a ringing phone or a customer patiently tapping on your counter with their wallet out.

That is right, not a letter that can be set aside for a few days, but a ringing telephone or a real expectant person before you. In my opinion, the pace of commerce conducted on the internet is markedly faster than the good old days, (if there was in fact such a thing), and customers do expect some sense of urgency when they send off an electronic enquiry.

I have not seen specific research, but there is an abundance of anecdotal evidence out there indicating that your typical cyber customer will only wait a short time for you to supply them with requested information, before wandering off somewhere else to spend their money, probably NEVER to return.

So please have a look at your customer communications process. Firstly, is it easy for people to find a contact button? Is the process of speaking to you reasonably straightforward, or do you make it obvious that you would rather they did not bother? Some sites out there, perhaps to preserve the peace in their office, make it deliberately difficult to contact them. What are your thoughts on sites like this? Personally, I resent them, and if possible I do not use them. In other words, I take my money elsewhere.

Hopefully you do not conduct yourself in such an arrogant way, so once a person has asked you a question, how long do you take to bless them with an answer? Finally is that answer relevant to their query, or is it some generic and infuriating paste, doomed to turn a potential customer away?

In closing, I would suggest that you do not rely on an assurance from a staff member on this issue. What I suggest, is that you go to your own site today and send your own organisation an enquiring email or message as if you were a new visitor. Jot down the time and the specifics of what you are asking. How long did you wait for a reply? Studying that reply, would it have strengthened or weakened your regard for this site?

Sales are at stake, so please do this now.

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