September 22, 2009

Ten Ways to Make Your Web Site Answer Customer Phone Calls


Hostway Team

By Hostway

As a small business, it's important to have contact with your customers. But some phone calls could easily be handled by your Web site—saving time for you and your customers. Here are some ideas for how to tweak your Web site to handle some routine calls.

1. Add an FAQ page.

You already know which questions come up again and again. Answer them once and for all on your Web site by creating a frequently asked questions (FAQs) page. Update this page regularly to keep up with the latest developments and answer timely questions.

2. Review your Web site navigation.

Maybe you already have plenty of information on your Web site, but no one can find it. If you use a creative, nonstandard navigation scheme, take a look at your Web analytics to see if that is preventing people from finding the information they need. Even if you use standard navigation, check your labels. Are they clear and accurate?

3. Add a video demonstration.

If you're spending a lot of time on the phone giving directions on how to use your product, a video demonstration could save time. And because nothing beats a visual demonstration, an online video will be more helpful to your customers than a phone conversation with you. Learn how to make a video for your Web site.

4. Offer Internet-only sales.

Take a page from the airlines' book, and offer lower prices for customers who purchase online. Or, offer online-only sales to encourage people to buy online rather than calling or visiting your store. Financially, this strategy makes sense because buying online does not use your staff resources they way an in-person or telephone sale does. And, a lower online rate helps defray the cost of shipping, which is one reason many customers prefer to shop in person.

5. Display Your security and encryption features prominently.

Some people still prefer placing an order by telephone because of fears about online security. Help overcome this obstacle by highlighting the steps you take to safeguard their information, and make it clear that you won't sell their information to third parties.

6. Offer email support.

Display your email address more prominently than your phone number. Email is a real time-saver compared with a phone call. First, you don't have to drop everything to answer an email. Second, you can take your time to find the answer to the questions, and you can get right to the point in your conversation with the customer.

7. Automate quotes, reservations or other functionality online.

If you can build an automated system to handle quotes, reservations, bookings or other critical functions of your business, you can free up considerable resources for other, mission-critical activities.

8. Include your business hours on your Contact Us page.

If you own a retail shop or restaurant, you probably get tons of calls asking what time you open and close. Make sure your hours are displayed on your Web site and directory listings to help reduce these calls. If you own a restaurant, you may want to post the daily specials online as well.

9. Include a sizing chart if you sell wearable items.

Ordering clothing or other items you wear online can be confusing because customers can't try it on. Help customers help themselves by including a link to a sizing chart that helps customers figure out what size to order.

10. Dedicate a section of your site to help and make it part of the main navigation.

Create a full-service help center that includes your FAQs, video demonstrations sizing charts and any other relevant information customers may need when doing business with you. Add it to your main navigation to make it easy to find.

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