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This 37 message thread spans 2 pages: 37 ( [1] 2 > >     
Do you put a phone number on your site?
Is it worth the trouble?

 4:25 pm on Aug 12, 2002 (gmt 0)

I broke down and put one up on one of my sites - I get about 3 calls per day (this site only gets about 300 uniques/day). Most are from people too lazy to navigate within the site to what they need, or they just don't have a clue.... If I put up a phone number on one of my busier sites, I could be swamped.

I added the number because some people just feel more comfortable if they can see your physical address and #. What does everybody else think? I noticed that amazon puts their number up but they make you drill several layers to find it?



 4:32 pm on Aug 12, 2002 (gmt 0)

If I was going to put a phone number on one of my sites I'd use one of those automated 'help yourself' kind of systems with the very last option being one that rings through to you. Ideally it would screen out most of the simple stuff and keep you freed up. The downside of this is that it can be pricey.

Also on your contact page above the phone number maybe put something like "Please check our commonly asked questions page and if you still can't find what you're looking for please call us and we'll be glad to help you out."


 4:48 pm on Aug 12, 2002 (gmt 0)

Toll free phone number + quality salesperson = Increased sales. Period.


 4:52 pm on Aug 12, 2002 (gmt 0)

Pros and cons here

Pro : A phone number increases user confidence, and provides a real world method of contact for those who are still uncomfortable with email etc

Good feedback on the site. If people are making queries about navigation, consider redesigning your navigation layout (real users are the benchmark of your sites usability. Some are just too lazy to look, but some are genuinely confused. If you take on board the feedback, you should be able to improve the sites performance AND reduce the number of calls)

Con : You actually get calls. A 1% callthrough rate doesn't sound too bad to me, at least people are showing an interest. But I assume that you would like to see more than 300 uniques a day, eventually. This will inevitably increase the number of calls, which will impact on your ability to do other things

You might consider switching to a premium rate number. Paying 1/minute will quickly separate those with a genuine problem from random surfers with too much time on their hands

If call volume could be a problem, see if you can find out about call answering/forwarding bureaux (here might be a good place to start [dmoz.org]). Maybe it would be ecomonic, maybe not, it depends on the economics of your situation.

What I would say, for sure, is that if you publish a phone number, be prepared to have it called. Otherwise, user perception of your customer service levels will actually be negative.


 5:16 pm on Aug 12, 2002 (gmt 0)

Just having the number there will increase sales.

We convert 75% of calls into sales there and then, if we could do that with "pure web traffic" I'd be posting from somewhere far more exotic than I am now :)

It's a big step to take but not really from a time taken point of view, it's more the commitment to be there between certain times.

If you are selling real things to real people then I consider it a must, imho.

<aside>We started out in the back bedroom, on one of the first calls I took my kids were being very loud in the background. The guy on the other end of the phone said "are they your kids in the background", I thought that had blown it he must *know* we are back bedroom merchants now so I said [sheepishly] Yes!, he said "cool" and gave me an order for a few hundred.


 5:18 pm on Aug 12, 2002 (gmt 0)

One of the old Yahoo criteria for listing was a valid phone number on your contact page. Some editors would even try the number. I don't know if that is still a requirement for listing, but I think there is a high probability that it is.


 5:28 pm on Aug 12, 2002 (gmt 0)

Absolutely. We have both an 800 number listed, and a "live help" chat system... almost all the contacts I get through the live help system end up calling my boss over the 800 number and placing an order within minutes of ending the chat. Beyond that, he gets a fair amount of orders who bypass the live chat, and call up directly while they're on the site. We probaby get almost half of our orders through either the chat->800 number route, direct calls, or email inquiries.

For big-ticket items, like most of our products, a phone contact is a must, and an 800 number is even better. If most of your products retail for under $20, I'd skip the expense of the 800 number, but still definitely have a phone number on the site.


 5:29 pm on Aug 12, 2002 (gmt 0)

None of my sites have phone numbers listen on them but then again they are not TRUE ecommerece sites ;) however if i were to have one that was not just affiliate based I would place the number on the site - i for one when i am buying anything look for a number. :)


 5:50 pm on Aug 12, 2002 (gmt 0)

We convert 75% of calls into sales there and then

We do a high conversion over the phones, too. We have a dozen customer care folks to handle the traffic, though ... which is nice.

I would say that we get our share of people who are too lazy to actually click through the site and call with stupid questions, though. Those calls eat up a lot of bandwidth.


 5:52 pm on Aug 12, 2002 (gmt 0)

We have our 800 number on every page of our site. We have our local phone and fax number on the order form. We also have our address on the order form.

I believe that if you are trying to convert big-ticket sales (over $500), it is necessary to post the phone number to give people that "warm, fuzzy feeling".

We take about half our orders over the phone, from people who called us and saw the number on the website. Many tell us they wouldn't have ordered from us if they hadn't been able to reach us by telephone first.

I haven't done any research to determine a price break point where it becomes profitable to take an order/answer questions over the phone. I suppose it depends on how much time you spend on the phone with each potentional customer. Anybody have any research on this topic?


 12:56 am on Aug 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

i wish i had the time to answer calls as i know i'd make a lot more money ..... but i'd also do a lot less development work and my business would stagnate ..... i know, i tried it for 6 months .....

everything my customers and potential customers need to know is available online, including full support information. i try to keep my own sites clear and easy to navigate so that users can find what they need quickly and easily. if they RTFM, they should never need to call me or email me or anything, so i do everything i can to encourage them to RTFM.

i do provide voicemail and fax numbers, and i ask people to give me an email address for replies - i explain that answers can be lengthy and it's always easier to send URLs or code or other information by email than by telephone.

what i need now is a nice office with a few dozen staff ..... anyone want to lend me lots of money?

Visit Thailand

 6:15 am on Aug 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

Personally I think that it all depends on what type of business you are in. Putting telephone numbers in there may well increase sales but WILL also increase costs (call backs and extra staff to handle the calls). Using a premium number may also be useful as someone mentioned above, but it still does not detract away from the increase in costs.

Plus a lot of webmasters seem to forget who they are targetting, for example, if you are selling something such as rooms at a hotel in New York then you would need to remember that putting a phone number down means you are reaching out to the entire world.

By putting the number down you are saying we are proffessional and can provide good service by phone, so the last thing you want is an engaged tone, bad phone manners, or to be kept on hold for a long time.

Does this mean therefore that you should have mutlilingual staff ? Should you have a different number for overseas callers and if so how many ? What PABX system should you use ? The list goes on and on.

You will also most likely get spammed, people who call from all over the world to sell you something. I am in Thailand and we have people calling from the UK just to sell something we do not want !

If you provide a phone number to help with an increase in sales, then waht about customer complaints (entirely different training needs to be given), or after sales service.

There are a lot of things to be considered and very much depends on what you do, who now and in the future you sell to, and how much investment you can afford.


 7:27 am on Aug 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

The first sale on a relatives UK site was from a geezer in New York. He wanted more information, without the old phone number, no sale and I would not have looked as good after doing their website.


 8:56 am on Aug 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

Telephone number on UK sites for businesses is law. You must provide it. For other countries - I don't know.

However, the phone is useful: I have just had a 300 order from a woman who could not order over the internet. Firstly, she couldn't get more than one product in the basket (that was her fault) and secondly, she couldn't fill her name and address in (computer just beeped at her). Well, I have certainly never tested my site with MSIE 5.14 on a PowerMac. Without the phone, you lose that type of order.


 10:14 am on Aug 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

>>Telephone number on UK sites for businesses is law. You must
>>provide it

are you sure? you must provide an address (any address that someone can serve notice on your company, whether it's your home address, a PO Box, your registered company address or a business mailing address), but as far as i know, you do not need to provide a telephone number or email address. i've certainly seen nothing that says a telephone number must be provided. do you have a link to any official documents that state this?


 10:40 am on Aug 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

Not sure it is an official law (can you have an unofficial one :))but I may be wrong. But when setting up a merchant account you have to have a page about returns policy and all of that sort of guff. Well that is my experience anyhow.



 10:57 am on Aug 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

To me, NOT putting a phone number on is commercial suicide. However, we sometimes use call centers to answer the calls and handle the enquiries. Not as expensive as you might think (50 pence to two pounds per call UK money).

As for UK law, I don't think the phone number is a legal requirement, but if you are a limited company then technically your company number is AND the names of the directors... now who does that? Can't see that on MSN.co.uk and I bet Microsoft has a UK company somewhere.


 11:12 am on Aug 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

As for UK law, I don't think the phone number is a legal requirement, but if you are a limited company then technically your company number is AND the names of the directors... now who does that? Can't see that on MSN.co.uk and I bet Microsoft has a UK company somewhere.

Anyone can access this info from companies house online (ltd's only), and the tel no. can be found by looking up the domain.


 11:51 am on Aug 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

I definitely have a phone number on site, as well as fax no, emails, physical and postal addresses. I'd have a photo of the B&M shop if the area looked a bit prettier. Anything for credibility.

BUT, basing in New Zealand and aiming at the US/UK markets, it's not an 0800 (freephone) number.

Why? I don't want to make sales over the phone, the time zones are impossible, and it ain't cheap at that distance. Add that to the fact that it's an arty type site where up to half our traffic is arty crafty people looking for ideas, and I know from experience that the cheekier ones won't hesitate to phone and ask questions to get info about a product or technique.

But the number is there anyway for anyone just wanting a bit of reassurance that we really exist.


 12:18 pm on Aug 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

We post two 800 numbers on every page.

For every completed web order we get 2 or 3 phone orders. The customers always have one last question or they want to know if we have stock.

Another BIG PLUS is that when we tweak the code that drives the site sometimes we do not discover all the bugs. It has happened several times where a customer will report a bug on the site (and we still get their order). When they call it gives me an opportunity to find out information like what browser, OS and what exactly happened. We have fixed some major bugs this way.

Most importantly it gives the customer confidence and I am sure it accounts for the fact we are still here and lots of our competition is not.


 1:08 pm on Aug 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

We have an order and help number on our main site. They are not 1-800 numbers though. We used to have those but because we sell l*ngerie I was getting some very interesting phone calls because it was free. ;) Taking down the 1-800 #s seemed to cut out the pervs for the most part.

It definitely increases sales to have a number there as there are still a lot of people out there that would for some reason give me their credit card info over the phone instead of on a secure shopping system. During the holidays and Valentines it is especially important as people want to make sure their orders have gone through. I think it just shows there is actually a person behind the web site.


 3:31 pm on Aug 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

We provide phone, fax, e-mail information as well as the physical address of the company on every page. I'd provide carrier pigeon information if it would make customers feel more comfortable about purchasing from my clients. Some of our clients use an 800 #, others don't. So far, it hasn't seemed to make a difference in amount of sales.


 4:24 pm on Aug 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

Phone numbers are essential on a business website.

6 months ago no phone number - 80 per month sales

Phone number now present, I have taken 900 today alone.

My advice , phone number has got to be there !




 5:05 pm on Aug 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

It really depends on your website. However, I personally never order anything from a website unless they have a clear path of contact, preferably through voice.

I am thinking back to last christmas when a few thousand people got ripped off ordering playstation 2's from a bogus website.

Anyhoo, there is a difference between a 'website business' and a 'business with a website'. The idea that you can just create a website and then sitback and watch the profits roll in is one of the things that caused so many dot-coms to fire up and die in the past few years.


 7:21 pm on Aug 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

If you rely on e-commerce alone, you never get the chance to "up" the sale. Human operators can ask, "do you want the widget or the widget deluxe?" or "do you need any consumables to go with that widget?" Some sites, such as Amazon have a go at trying to replicate this (e.g. buy the book you want + another similar book for a special price), but it's never going to be as effective as a human.


 7:27 pm on Aug 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

We get a few phone calls from people inquiring about our vacation rentals and I know when people call they are REALLY serious.

It surprises me, however, that most people book with only email contact. I'm not surprised that Europeans don't call but I would have expected more people from the mainland to call.

Some ODP editors insist on a phone number on the site (if you are taking credit card info anyway).


 7:55 pm on Aug 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

We were told by our credit card processing vendor that it was one of their requirements.

The only phone calls we have received were legitimate, serious buyers who had very unique questions. Without the phone number, we would not have been able to properly service them.

Personally, if I am purchasing a gift for my spouse I prefer to call because I have too often had the surprise ruined with an automated e-mail that the gift was sent, etc.


 9:50 pm on Aug 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

hmmmm ..... as a thought .... if people need to call, perhaps there is something missing from the site? perhaps the information given isn't sufficient? have those of you that receive a lot of calls given any though to that? if so, have you done anything about it? (just curious, that's all)


 10:14 pm on Aug 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

if people need to call, perhaps there is something missing from the site?

I don't think so - some people just like human contact. Imagine that ;)

Although my travel site books a considerable amount of business by phone, I can imagine that for someone selling $5 widgets the cost of handling phone orders could eat through the profit margin in a hurry. But for my (high margin) product, I can't imagine not offering phone access.


 12:39 am on Aug 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

It comes down to the perference of the customer (visitor). I will gladly pay the $0.50 toll free charge or even the long distance charge (if you don't have toll free service) to make a visitor feel comfortable and at ease in buying from me.

Just because a web site said "it's the best deal in the world" doesn't make it so.

The more you look like and feel like a professional, reliable service, where the visitor has a re-course if not satified, the more people will believe it.

This 37 message thread spans 2 pages: 37 ( [1] 2 > >
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