Walks like a customer, talks like a customer...it IS a customer!
For example, what is your current follow up process when someone submits an online form? Are the requests simply sitting in someone's email in box? If they are followed up on, how quickly? Do you have an auto-response that lets them know when to expect personal follow up? Do you meet that time frame? Is there actually anyone or a team of people assigned to this task?
Believe it or not, many people still are not totally comfortable with shopping online. Many still are not making a purchase decision purely from the information they see at your site. Often times they are testing your customer service abilities by using your contact form. They want to make sure you're "for real" before taking that next step.
"Oh, but Caryl, we get 20 or 30 requests for more information a month. We can't follow up on every one of those. That's why we have a website, so they can buy online without tying up our sales people."
Really...20 to 30? And this is upsetting you WHY? Your sales people should be tied up (figuratively speaking) with sales calls and answering potential customer's questions. If they're not, fire them!
You don't have sales people? Sure you do. Every business should have someone that can answer these questions. They are in sales.
How about a toll free number or better yet, one that is only published on your website (hint: then you can track those people that started off online then proceeded to call). Same questions as with online forms: what is your follow up process?
People have lots of questions. Our current world, chock full of information on various media sources, lends us to be that much more inquisitive. A customer isn't made in a minute, but it certainly can be lost in less than one.
Start to recognize that sales sometimes start outside of the cart. And that these calls and forms are filled with valuable information about information you should possibly be including online, as well as about your online sales process. Maybe you're getting more calls than cart sales? Could be a sign that your product or service is better sold offline.
Look at how you can fill the leaks on your website - and in your sales process - and begin capturing those lurking customers that could be walking by and on to your competitor.
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