When you start your company you should also invest in a high quality online store or web site (depending on your business) to catch all those enquiries that otherwise would have gone to your competitors. Gone are the days when a company can solely rely on a simple online directory listing, printed advertising, word of mouth, TV adverts, advertorials and editorials – although these do help of course.
So, you get your shiny new web site that is targeted at the customers you want. The website designers encourage you to have an enquiry form with call to actions on your website to increase the chances of someone contacting you via your website. They want to make it easy for your customers to contact you, because that’s the main point of your website – to increase your online revenue and your online profile. You sit back and wait for those enquiries to flood in. All is good in the world.
But hang on… did you think the web designers were just trying to sell you a business website and that they were just joking when they said you’ll get enquiries through your website? Oops… lets look at what happens if you don’t take your website seriously.
What happens when you don’t take your website seriously?
We did some research last week (OK only a small amount, bearing in mind how many websites are online) but we were shocked at what happened when we contacted companies through their corporate websites and small business websites.
We contacted 14 different companies across the UK. Some were engineering companies, and some were car parts suppliers. We used the company web site enquiry form on their web pages in all cases and we diligently completed their form fields and submitted our enquiries. We had a very clear, totally genuine, request to employ them for their services (it was to do with engineering – not buying a website) and others to buy their product (in this case it was to enquire about buying a car part from them – not to sell them our web site services). Each of the car parts company websites were contacted via their sites enquiry form for buying their products as they didn’t have an eCommerce website so we couldn’t buy from them straight away – we had to wait for them to reply first, then we’d buy from them the old-fashioned way.
But as I mentioned earlier, we were shocked at the results. From the 14 companies we contacted only 2 replied! One of those replied was 3 days after our initial enquiry was made.
This is a very disappointing response, as you can imagine. For a genuine enquiry to 14 businesses across two different business sectors, only 1 responded in good time.
From the two that did respond, one of them said that they no longer offered the services that they were advertising on their web site.
Website isn't making sales or bringing in new business?
If your website has been designed well, built with clean, un-bloated code and is up to date, then it might be something you may not have thought about before. The message in this blog post is two-fold:
1. If you have a web site, you must take it seriously. When you have a web site, make sure you keep it up to date. So if your services or products change, you update your website accordingly. If you can’t update your website yourself – for instance if you have to rely on your mate/friend of a friend/aunty or your website designers to change pages, add pages, edit content, add pictures, etc then we would recommend you invest in a new website that you can edit yourself – quickly and easily, like a CMS website from aprompt, for instance – just saying.
2. If you have a website, you must take it seriously. (I know I’m repeating this phrase, but it’s so important). If you have an enquiry form or contact details of any kind – like an email address or telephone number, then people will come to your website and they will use the avenues of communication that you have provided. Potential customers will fill in your enquiry form if you have one) and ask for your services or ask you questions about how you can help them.
The important part of this point is not that your website looks fantastic, up to date or full of interesting articles and blog posts but that you respond to those enquiries. Not only that but to respond to those enquiries in a timely manner. This is essential. Responses to website enquiries should be the same day or at worst, the next day.
If you are unavailable to respond straight away, it’s best to put an auto responder on your email account advising them that you will respond and tell them when they should expect a response from you. Communication is key. If you let people know what’s happening, they’re more inclined to wait with patience.
What happens if you don’t answer website enquiries?
Here we explain, briefly, what happens if a company doesn’t respond quickly to website enquiries, emails or telephone calls. This is very brief but straight to the point:
If ‘company A’ doesn’t respond quickly to that new customer website enquiry (and all the possible customers they may get from that one enquiry, through word of mouth) they will go elsewhere. In addition – through word of mouth and social networking – that customer may tell others how they felt ignored, so not to bother contacting ‘company A’ but instead go to ‘company B’ – who is most likely the competitor (the one who did respond).
You are hurting your business if you do not respond to customer enquiries. Each enquiry your website sends you is potential business for your company. Your website is your online salesperson and its just handed you a potential new customer. So, your website has done its job – now it’s up to you to put on the finishing touch with your expertise. Go get ‘em!
Written by Kirsty Paget