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Do you put a phone number on your site?

Is it worth the trouble?

4:25 pm on Aug 12, 2002 (gmt 0)

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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?

6:06 am on Aug 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

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In addition to web based products and services, we provide a local service. Line and wireless phone numbers are posted as part of the biz header. I was hesitant that posting the wireless number would attract telemarketing, but so far that hasn't been a problem.

I agree that a visible phone number greatly increases customer confidence, and with a local service, it is a must. Funny how people don't mind the absence of a phone number that would obviously be a long-distance call, but demand it if the call is local.

6:14 am on Aug 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Technically, every website already has a phone number on every web page. When you look at a webpage, you have in-effect made a phone call to that page/site.

I think a phone number listed on a site is a double-edge sword... on the one hand, it looks more professional, and can help put customers at ease.

Yet, if you sell a product/service orderable online, you may be asking the customer to stop what they are doing and go make a phone call.... or worse, go off-line, "leave" your store, and make a phone call. In many cases, it might be better to help them when they are there... and sometimes helping them means leading them to stay on the site and NOT call. When is the last time you went into a department store and they asked you to leave, go home, then call them on the phone?!

I had an 800 number once... more than 80% of the calls where irrelevant questions from people too lazy to read the information from the website, a complete waste of time ... not only for me, but for the customer also. I have gone back to a local number, and do not answer the phone anymore... except I do check my messages and return relevant calls. My voice mail says, "we are busy helping other customers at this time"... which is always the truth... we are busy advertising, trying to get what we have into more peoples' hands... we are always busy trying to help more people more.

I understand now why some big companies seem so "stuffy", and impersonal... it's not because they want to be that way... it is because it works. If there was no competition and we were rich, I'd gladly hire an expert to answer customer's calls 24/7... but that is just not realistic. Like it or not, it is a successful system of efficiency. Customers are like kids, and just like we love our kids, we love our customers, and treat them like we do for good reasons... (you'll understand when you're grown!) call it "tough love", if you will! (try explaining that to a customer!)

I think just to have a phone number on the site, you'll be miles above the competition, even if it just rings a voice mail.... most people won't call anyway, but it instills trust. A lot of sites don't even list a phone number.

Keep in mind my comments are for a specific product sales site, the benefits of the telephone for different business models will vary widely.

12:34 pm on Aug 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

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

That is exactly what we used to think when the phone would constantly ring. We have added hundreds of pages of technical information for many of the products but the calls keep on coming. It gives the owner of the company fits when he hears us on the phone taking an order when the customer is on the site.
Some people just prefer human contact and security in the knowledge that their credit card did not just enter some black hole.

What is that old saying -- The customer is always right.


8:24 am on Aug 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

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A telephone number is great when selling goods but selling information is another thing entirely!

Judging by the feedback I get from my website there are an awful lot of people who simply want to get the information about a specific person or time and would rather not pay for it....Makes me shudder to think of them telephoning.

I did get just one telephone call in the last few years from a client who could not recognize the charge and the cc company gave her my number...that was fine...she was pleased and I was too. :)


When the antique site goes up then I will put a number on it.

11:03 pm on Aug 16, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I come from a customer service background and one of the most important things I learned is that people want to know that they can get in touch with a real person should they have to. In fact the majority of calls I have gotten from my commerce site have been people with either special needs or just checking to see if they could get a real person on the line. Upward of 90% of these calls convert to sales. I have to echo what other people have said that if you are selling something a phone number, local or toll free, is a must.
12:49 am on Aug 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

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>> (me) if people need to call, perhaps there is something missing from the site?

several people replied with comments like "Some people just prefer human contact ..."

i'm genuinely interested in this (and the whole of ecommerce). can i ask each of you what percentage of your sales come from phone calls and what percentage comes from direct purchase online? (ie, 90% web / 10% phone or 90% phone / 10% web etc).

i'm also wondering what other factors cause people to phone up rather than simply place an order - product information, delivery information, payment systems and security, pricing, types of products, etc. i'm not asking for answers to this right now, but maybe worth doing a big survey one day to see if there are any common factors and to see if there are ways to overcome them.

i'm not out to prove a point, just looking to help myself and others to maximise sales while minimising workload. i'm a firm believer in "tell them everything they need to know so they don't need to ask" (whether asking is by phone or email or whatever doesn't matter). IMO, spending time giving that information from the start should save a lot more time answering questions later on - the time saved can be spent promoting the business to make even more sales or spent relaxing on a beach while the money just rolls in.

2:26 am on Aug 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

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email address + phone number + fax number / every page. opens the doors, surprising how little hassle we get from fax or phone, obviously the email address gets load of rubbish.
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