Once you’ve got your website set up and people are finding it, you will need a way for them to get in touch with you. The absolute simplest way to do that is to put your email on your page. You can even include your phone number. But there are some drawbacks with the simplest method. Spammers go through websites looking for email addresses to gather and flood with spam. The same can happen with phone numbers. And just putting you information out for your customer puts the burden of contact on them. They need to open an email, copy the address in, write a subject line and compose an email. But what if you could help them with all that? That’s what contact forms are there for. Plus they can do even more.
Make it Easy
First things first. A contact form can make getting in touch with you easier for your customers. Instead of depending on their email software, which might even be on a different computer, your form handles generating a message to you. You can provide a list of contacts to choose from, billing, orders, help, whatever departments you need, and let them choose the one they want. They fill out a form and when they hit send, your software sends them an email thanking them for contacting you and giving them a copy of what they sent you. Easy, and it can be done from any computer, their own, one at the library, a borrowed smart phone, anywhere.
Keep it Secure
Moving your email off your website protects you from those spammers, but if you want customers to have an option to email you directly, just put it on the contact form. The best WordPress plugins for forms let you protect your data this way. And communication over SSL encrypted communication is much better than email, making it more secure for both you and your customer.
Define it Precisely
Since your form can collect additional data based on checkboxes, dropdowns, and other fields you can use it to help your customer precisely define their problem to you from the very beginning. Besides directing it to the proper address, and thus the person or department most likely to be able to help them, you can have a list of common problems that department has had previously. Once they choose one of those, or ‘other’ to allow for new issues, more boxes can appear to ask for additional information you are sure to need. If they are contacting billing, one of the options could be checking if a payment has been received.
Once that is selected the form asks them to enter their invoice number. You could also ask for the date the payment was sent, method of payment, amount, or any other data that would help your billing department answer their question. Getting this kind of information first thing with the request can speed up the process a lot. You might even have a single response resolve the problem, a great savings of time on your side and a very pleasant customer experience on theirs.
Store it Permanently
In addition to getting directly to the right people with the right information, once all that data is entered it can be stored and analyzed later. How helpful would it be to know which questions are most frequently asked over the past year? You can find out which customers ask the most questions, which questions are asked the most, even identify flaws in your process you can correct to eliminate those questions at the source. And some subtle additions to the form can get you even more data. Adding a subscribe to email list checkbox, after checking to be sure they haven’t already subscribed, can add customers to your records and let you market directly to them later on.
Instead of dealing with emails you can integrate the system with your Customer Relations Management (CRM) software to track open tickets and let people addressing requests know what other problems that customer has had in the past. Additional information can help your staff to do its job better and faster, another way of making your customer happy. And turning a customer contact, with the possibility of being a negative experience, into a positive one is well worth the effort.
That’s just four ways a contact form will benefit your website, and those were big, multifaceted ways. There are many others, ranging from improved appearance to perceived professionalism. One of the subtlest is how easy it is. Tools to add a contact form range from simple to complex, from basic to powerful, but once you find a good fit, you might wonder why you hadn’t done it before. It’s not difficult, and it delivers great benefits. So what’s holding you back? Take the next step to make contact. You’ll be glad you did.