Have you ever noticed how some Web sites make it nearly impossible to communicate with the organization they're trying to promote? It sends a message that it's OK to look -- just don't bother them....
Sometimes the "Contact Us" link is so buried and in such mice type, it takes my reading glasses AND a magnifying glass to find it. And when I do locate it, it leads me to a landing page with contact information that isn't in the same medium I'm in.
If my preferred method of communication is electronic, then I'd truly like to send someone an email. I have this aversion to completing fields in online forms. It doesn't allow me to keep a record of my inquiry or the date I made it unless I print the entire Web page. And even then, much of the copy is cut off because the content field box scrolls down. Plus, I can't forward it like I can an email, and if I don't receive a response after sending my online form, I have no way to re-send it without creating a new one. It's also just so impersonal.
I understand the need to reduce SPAM and crackpots taking up space in staff inboxes, but when a Web site only provides one or several contact phone numbers and a mailing address, totally ignoring electronic communication all together, that really annoys me. How long will it take to get a human being on the telephone, and then how many people will I need to pass through until I get to the right one if I don't know the individual's name? What a time waster it is explaining the nature of your call to three individuals until you're transferred to your final destination only to get someone's voicemail. Yuck.
And what if I were a journalist, interested in interviewing someone in that organization for my daily newspaper? Do they really think journalists on deadline are going to fill out those fields on the media page and wait passively for a junior in the communications department to call them back? What if s/he's out of the office that day? Opportunity lost for free PR.
Or what about some nonprofit organizations that are praying for an increase in support, yet you can't find a place on their site to make an online donation? And sometimes, when they do create a separate page for donors, they expect you to mail in a check. I realize that technology budgets may be tight, but there are countless suppliers today that will process online donations for a small fee.
Then, of course, the opposite can be true, too. You go to a Web site because you have an issue or complaint and you're looking for a phone number to call them NOW. Yet, the only option provided is an online form. You can fill out the fields and wait up to 48 hours for a return e-mail from someone in customer service who doesn't own a surname, or you can scream at your cat. Your choice.
And that's my Andy Rooney on the "Contact Us' options on Web sites for now.
Oh, one more thing. I just visited CBS News' Web site to check how Rooney spells his name, and their "Contact Us" link is at the very bottom footer in mice type. When you click it, guess what happens? You get a pop-up window with– an online feedback form. If you want their phone number or mailing address, that takes digging through three more clicks from the CBS Corp. link. Oh well.
Take the first step (it's free).
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