It’s strange but even in 2009, some companies seem determined to hold their customers and site visitors at arm’s length, making it nigh on impossible to contact or communicate with them.
Whether the customer has an enquiry, a complaint, a business proposal, or just wants to say how fab the product is, if you do not provide multiple routes to communicate, and then MONITOR points of contact and respond to anyone and everyone endeavouring to reach you, you are going to lose business.
Obviously, if you are a major brand, the damage to reputation caused by a single person whingeing on a forum about the fact they can’t reach anyone at your company may have a minimal impact on your branding. But when people type onto forums, Twitter, Facebook etc and that comment is then pushed out to multiple, interlinked sites, asking “Does anyone have an email address for a real person at XYZ?”, the implication there is that you have little interest in your potential and actual customers.
The facts need not even be known.
How many attempts at contact have already been made? How important is the query? Is it life or death? Have repeated attempts to reach a human been met only by automated messages sent by autoresponder? Are the phones not being answered?
None of us in reading the request for an email address need to know the answer to any of those questions. The implication is clear. XYZ company are difficult, nay impossible, to get hold of by the normal routes. So, Mr Desperate of Acacia Avenue has decided to put it out on to the blogosphere, twittersphere, to everyone he can think of to find a way to reach XYZ.
Whether it was a completely trivial reason to ask, or a vitally important one threatening a multi-million pound business venture, none of us are likely to ever know. But, when any of us think of XYZ company in the future, our perception is likely to be tainted by that one question. And the assumption which goes with it, which is that XYZ don’t know how to operate a business where customers matter.