Contact Should Mean Contact

Paul Nolan

“Game changer” is a term you hear often when people talk about how technology has changed their industry. There is no doubt technological advances can make every company in any industry more efficient and effective.

At the same time, even the most vociferous technology advocates warn against leaning too hard on it at the expense of the personal interaction that long-term business relationships will always require.

“I got a phone call this morning from one of our oldest customers,” says the executive in a 2010 commercial for an airline. “He fired us. After 20 years, he fired us… Said he didn’t know us anymore. We used to do business with a handshake — face to face. Now it’s a phone call and fax [how quaint is that?]… We’ll get back to you later — with another fax probably.”

The executive proceeds to hand out airline tickets to his entire team and says, “We’re going to set out for a little face-to-face chat with every customer we have.”

I thought of this commercial when I was researching a story for this issue and wanted to reach a New York company that provides marketing services to businesses nationwide. Their website has a beautiful modern design and goes into great detail about all of their offerings.

The contact tab, however, left a little to be desired. “We’re in Brooklyn, New York. If you want to get in touch with us, please email,” states a note above three different target audiences: General, Advertisers (they produce podcasts) and Press. I used the press email, but didn’t hear back after a week. I tried again and got the same non-response. I Googled for a phone number and got what I discovered later was a bogus number for the company.

So I decided to pose as an interested advertiser through email and got a same-day reply. At least they’re responsive to potential customers.

Reaching a real person at any business shouldn’t feel like a scavenger hunt. After my experience, I found a B2B web usability report from Huff/Komarketing in which 51 percent of respondents said vendor websites they visit do not provide thorough contact information (see page 9). Have you looked over your company’s contact page lately? Do you mean it when you say “contact us,” or is it more of a dare?