In my job, I regularly go hunting. No, I don’t mean actual “get on your camouflage and sit in a field patiently waiting for hours” hunting, I mean trying to track down contact information for media outlets that I don’t regularly work with or political figures, schools, companies, etc. It seems like such an easy task that would be a nice break in the hectic world of marketing and public relations, but it’s actually a complete nightmare. Each website is different and it usually takes me 5 minutes or so to locate the contact information I need. Times that 5 minutes by, say, 30 contacts I need to find, and you can see quickly why it becomes an issue.
Part of my frustration comes from the lack on consistency in where websites put their contact us link. Usually, it’s at the bottom, so I immediately scroll there first to look for the “contact us” link. But, some websites like to hide it a little more than that. In many cases, if there isn’t a link on the bottom, I go back to the main navigation and look for some variation of “about us” and then spend time searching through those pages looking for some glimmer of an email address.
But that isn’t the main source of my frustration. That comes when I finally find the often elusive “contact us” page and all the page contains is a web form for me to fill out. Most of the time, I have a very specific person within a company that I need to email or call. But more than that, the form won’t work for most of my purposes. For example, if I’m trying to send the Sports Editor a story about a local athlete that is doing something great at our college, the generic web form isn’t going to work. First, I need to get the information to the Sports Editor fast and having his email is much faster. But secondly, a generic web form doesn’t allow me to attach photos or anything else that I think would be helpful for him to do his job. Instead, what I need is a list of editors and reporters and their email addresses and phone numbers. MLive does this very well for each media outlet including Business Review.
All of this has left me to ponder: Do companies REALLY want to hear from their customers? If you asked any of them, I’m sure everyone, or at least an overwhelming majority would say they do want to hear from their customers. But, their websites are telling a different story. Their websites are saying, “We’ll let you talk to us, but only after you jump through a bunch of hoops and only if you talk to us the way we want you to.”
So, what is your website communicating to your customers? Does it make it easy for them to talk to you?