If you want communication from leads, be contactable. If you don’t want to be contacted, don’t offer a way to do it.
Have you ever wanted to contact a business and not been able to do it?
I remember years ago wanting to contact Channel Nine to complain about their coverage of the Academy Awards. (Long story short, they cut out many categories, seemingly arbitrarily. This was cause enough to inspire my anger in 2009.)
But when I looked for an email to reach someone at the network, their website was no help.
These days everyone has a social media presence but back then, a message to an official Facebook account was not guaranteed to get a reply. So, did I give up? No. Pedant that I was, I wrote a formal letter, printed it out and mailed it.
Unfortunately, unlike the supposed policy of the ABC, Channel Nine has no obligation to reply to complaints. And, to be fair, my complaint was very tongue in cheek. (Judging by their current website, it seems they still have no email contact.)
But you know what? Fair play to Channel Nine. They didn’t want me to contact them and didn’t provide me an avenue. (What that implies about their respect for their viewers is another matter.)
I much prefer this kind of stonewalling to the alternative: contacting a business through one of their provided channels and receiving no response whatsoever.
Recently, I came across this when trying to get in contact with a company about potential business.
It went something like this:
The company has a ‘Contact’ tab on their website, where I have the choice to fill in a form or email directly an address, usually info@ or contact@. I filled out the contact form and waited a week or so. (We have the same thing on our own website.)
I then went for the other option, and emailed. No response.
I then took to Facebook and direct-messaged one of their many social accounts. Finally, I got a response from someone managing their social. They gave me a new email to contact a particular person. A week later, still no response.
Why would this happen? Why would a business allow this to happen? I could be a potential lead.
Now, maybe I’m a very annoying — though persistent — person and I’m being deliberately ignored through all these channels.
I can understand that. I’ve worked as a magazine editor where I would receive unsolicited emails and phone calls left, right and centre. And sometimes I would have to ignore these just for sanity’s sake.
But I daresay this company isn’t getting that much correspondence.
So maybe I’m not getting a response because their business model doesn’t require them to get back to potential leads and opportunities. This makes complete sense. What doesn’t make sense is giving new potential business a way to contact you — and then not replying.
Besides, it’s not hard to set up an auto-reply, just to let people know your message has actually come through and not become lost in the internet ether.
I would, in fact, hazard a guess that nobody is monitoring these incoming messages. And thus, this company is potentially losing business because they don’t know what they’re missing out on.
They might hate what I’ve offered but because of their unmonitored email, they haven’t had the chance to even make the decision to reject me.
This is comms
Having a communications strategy actually does involve basic communication like email. If you offer one, monitor it. If nobody’s going to be able to reply for a few days, set up an out of office or an auto-reply.
It’s unbecoming of your business to not reply to potential clients or leads. In fact, it’s rude.
If you’re serious about communication, be serious about it. Reply to enquiries, comment on your social media pages and invite conversation. And if your business doesn’t need that — though I would argue that it almost certainly does — remove contact details from your website.
It’s simple: Don’t want to be contacted? Don’t provide contact details. It worked for Channel Nine.
If your business needs help with communication, get in touch today.