Picture this: You’re researching a product you’ve been thinking about buying… we’ll use shoes, for example. Since you’re shopping online and can’t actually try the shoes on, you want to talk to a real person to ask a few questions. On the company’s website, you see the following phone number: 1 (800) 555-SHOE.
Tell me, what comes to mind? Do you envision a call center where your call will be answered by a faceless robot with a monotone voice? Or maybe an under-trained customer service person? Do you dread pressing 1, 2, 3, or 4 in frustration as you try to find a real person at the end of an automated menu? Chances are, this experience probably HAS happened to you before.
Now ask yourself… Are these the feelings you want your customer to have when they see an 800 number like this on your web site? Of course not! Before I go on, let me just say that 800 numbers used to serve a very effective purpose and still have a few benefits, depending upon the usage. Years ago, when people only had landlines, this allowed them to call companies without paying high long distance charges.
Well, times have changed. Most people have cell phones, Smartphones, and even smarter phones. Except for the very few who still have to worry about long-distance calls, most people don’t care about long-distance charges. Here are a few more quick pointers to make your prospects more comfortable, and more likely to pick up the phone and call you:
- If you decide to include an 800 number like 1 (800) 555-SHOE, provide the actual numbers next to it. Don’t make people hunt for the letters in order to find the right numbers on their keypad.
- In addition to the toll-free number, provide a direct, local dial number. Why? Because it gives your company a more approachable presence. When people see the choice of both the 800 and direct dial, most assume that they’ll get straight to a real person in the main office and not just a remote call center!
- Make your phone number easy to find. Sure, you probably have a “contact us” link, but you should also have your contact info in the header and/or footer when appropriate. No matter what number or numbers you use, just make it very visible on your website! When people can’t find what they want—and find it quickly—they’ll leave and look elsewhere.
Action Step: Go look at your website and promotional materials and see how easy it is to locate your contact info and specific call to action. Sure, it depends on your business model, whether you are B2B or B2C, but the concept of giving a direct call number will increase lead calls, which will lead to more sales!