Maybe it seems a little back to front. I mean, first I reviewed some online chat software and now I am writing about whether or not adding online chat to a website is worth considering.
For me, that’s the order things have happened – I did the research because a client asked me too. And now I am thinking about adding chat to my site as well.
Of course, I could wait a while and see how chat goes for my client… Yet again, their business is so different to mine that any data would probably have limited value.
Here are what I see as the reasons for adding chat to a website…
If online chat was perfect for every website, we’d all have it, right? So here are some downsides to adding an online chat function…
Have I missed any other points to consider?
I think it’s also important that a website gives the right impression. Do you think online chat is suitable for professional businesses or perhaps just for more informal or technology businesses?
Or put it this way, would you ever use an online chat feature on a professional website?
Through recent conversations, the topic of contact details has come up (again!) So let me start by asking – do you prefer to be contacted by phone or email, or something else? When leaving your details for a business to contact you, do you like giving lots of details or just choosing the ones that suit?
I have explained before that I prefer getting emails than phone calls as a general rule, so maybe I am a little biased!
However, I don’t like filling in forms on websites that ask for a lot of information because it wastes my time and gives them more than I think they need to know. For example, if I am asking you to email me something, why do you need my phone number and postcode?
My favourite collection forms are those that let you fill in phone or email or whatever, or at least ask what your preferred method of contact is. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who prefers a choice…
Along with choosing what contact details you give out, remember to consider what you ask for, too.
If you are looking for something online, what form of contact details do you like to see? What difference does it make to you if it isn’t there?
I have often read about offering a range of contact methods to give clients options and their preferred choice. I believe in the value of certain options being offered, too. So it was very interesting to read Danielle Keister’s view on contact details.
Her argument is that someone who really wants your services will use the contact details your provide; if they won’t follow your system (in her case, completiong of a specific form to get a quote, etc) then this forms a process fo weeding out clients you didn’t really want in the first place.
I like the concept – it is impossible to please everyone so I can make my business run the way that best suits me. My contact pagedoesn’t include my mobile because I don’t think anyone’s writing project is so important I need to be contactable all the time, and it doesn’t include my email address to avoid spam. On the other hand, it does encourage an email contact form as the preferred means of contacting me.
I could delete my phone number from the site altogether, but I think there is a certain credibility attached to having a phone number available. Please tell me if you disagree!
My postal address is rarely used by anyone I don’t have an existing business relationship with, but I include it because it helps identify my location – I know I hate not knowing where a business is located if it isn’t clear (my .au domain and about us page do make it clear I am in Australia, and my exact location isn’t very relevant to clients so the contact page is less critical for me).
Away from my website, I generally use my URL and email address for contact information.
And I guess it works as the majority of clients and prospects do contact me by email – at times I wonder why I have a business phone at all!
Do you offer all your contact details or do you tailor it to your business preferences? How does that work for your business?
Consistency is an important aspect of building your brand. It is easy to remember to always use the same colours, fonts and logos, but you also need consistency in the details you provide.
For instance, I recently received an email where the sender’s email address was different to the one in the signature (and I mean completely different – names and domains varied!) and both were different to the URL of the business! I didn’t try any of them and deleted the email…
Contact details are not only important for branding and consistency, they are also crucial in building trust. A business that uses a different email address to what they advertise or refuses to give any contact details on a website and so on can give the impression of hiding something – not a great way to establish trust.
Personally, I also notice when people use an email address that doesn’t match their URL. For one thing, why lose the promotional advantage of using your own domain name? And why promote someone else’s business instead? Using a different domain to your own also looks unprofessional – especially if it is a hotmail address.
What do you think of a business that doesn’t have contact details consistent with your domain? Does it impact on your sense of trust?
When writing about including an email address on printed materials the other day, I mentioned that I prefer emails to phone calls.
Other than anyone’s personal preferences between writing and talking, here are some of the reasons I prefer communicating via email in my business:
That said, the phone can be quicker and easier for clarifying information or an involved discussion. And obviously my reasons don’t apply for different types of businesses.
Do you prefer email contacts over phone calls? How do you prefer to contact potential suppliers/service providers yourself?