A lesson many websites need to learn - don't make people walk over hot coals to get in touch with you. I've been exploring the websites of many churches, and more recently, the websites of church database providers. I think some of them need to realise (or be reminded) that customers (or, if you're a church - potential visitors) getting in touch with you is a gift. No one is obliged to contact you. It takes effort to make contact. I have to go out of my way to contact you. Even if people are getting in touch to complain, this too is a gift - they made the effort to contact you and to pass on their feedback - and this shouldn't be treated lightly. So don't make them walk over hot coals to contact you. Here are three examples I've recently been frustrated by. 1. The 'jump through all our hoops' scenario I wrote to a company with a question. They didn't have a phone number or an email contact. Not even the name of a person I could speak with or address my query too. Just a contact form:
What I was writing about didn't fit into the categories required. There wasn't a category for 'other' - what should I do? I just selected a category I thought was the closest match - which wasn't very close! I then had to create an account to submit my question. Weird. Why do I need to create an account to ask a simple question? I then received this email:
Because your reply will be automatically processed, you MUST enter your reply in the space below. Text entered into any other part of this message will be discarded. [===> Please enter your reply below this line <===] [===> Please enter your reply above this line <===]
Why? Why should I jump through so many hoops, fit myself into your complicated system, just to send you a simple query? 2.The 'no option for me' scenario A contact form is an appropriate way of enabling people to get in touch with you. But don't make it restrictive. Either keep the form so broad that anyone can use it, or create enough options for the multiple reasons people might want to contact you. Not like this form:
Which link would I use if I want to enquire about buying the product? Which link would I use if I wanted to write with a question about the features of the product? These contact links are restrictive, and don't make it easy for the customer to get in touch. 3. The 'you must give us all your details' scenario I've discovered this with many of the church database providers. In order to send them a question (e.g. for the research I've been doing for the articles I'm writing about church databases), I couldn't just send an email. I had to complete a long and complicated contact form:
Why? Why do I need to provide all this information just to ask you how much your database costs per year? If it's required, say so! And finally, if you are going to make visitors complete a long form, please at least mark which fields are mandatory (a * is the most common sign for a required field). Completing a form, clicking submit, only to discover that all the fields were required to be filled in and so needing to start again, only adds to the frustration of the experience. Lesson: don't look a gift contact in the mouth Customer (potential church visitor) contact is a gift. Don't make it difficult for people to give you this gift.