Website owners: Do you use a feedback form versus providing a contact email? Do you provide a contact email for feedback at all?
A feedback form can serve its purpose, if done correctly. However, if your website feedback form has glitches or errors, it can frustrate website visitors and turn some away. The same is true for contact emails provided, that are not valid or working. Website usability encompasses how well a visitor can “use” your website. When a vital aspect of it fails – then the repercussions can be lost sales, lost clients, and lowered perception of your brand image.
The following are two real world examples of how a lack of communication or poor communication can turn away clients. I have personally experienced similar variations of the following two situations and can attest to how such negative communication experiences will lower the brand image due to poor website usability.
First situation: Website owner has a fan page on Facebook. Facebook posts (from the brand fanpage) encourages fans to get in contact and ask questions on the website being promoted.
The problem: The method of communication on the website is done in an embedded form, which has a glitch that redirects the user to an error page.
The result: The frustrated user attempts to submit a message numerous times on the form, before ultimately giving up. The user may not return because the message sold by the brand is that there is a direct line of communication open, when in fact, there is not. This can be perceived as either a lack of website expertise, or a false statement – both lower the brand image. This system is not “usable” to the website visitor, therefore the website usability needs improvement in the area of communication.
Second situation: A brand website provides a contact email address to reach the website administrator. A dissatisfied customer wishes to provide direct feedback to the brand owner via the provided email on the website.
The problem: The email address provided on the website is not a working email address, returning a “user domain error” in the reply message.
The result: The user is not able to get his intended message to the owner. The user may not continue to do business with this brand. This can be due to outdated information on the website, or indifference by the brand owner to actually receive feedback from customers.
Final Thoughts: It is critical for website owners to make sure that there is a direct line of communication open to website visitors. Make sure that you personally test a website form from a public computer or asking a third-party to attempt to contact you through the website to see how easy (or hard) the process is.
Some of the best feedback you will get, is from website visitors that are not paid to provide website usability advice. I say this because they will provide genuinely insightful advice on how they can or cannot use your website. This is why you want to be able to be contacted by website visitors without hassles or obstacles. Make sure you have a direct line of communication available to your website visitors to guarantee the success of your brand.