Choosing how your customers connect with your business is an important decision that shouldn't be made lightly. Whether they're inquiring about your services, have a question about a product, are seeking a job, or even have a complaint, certain expectations are in place from the moment you post your contact information: they'll expect to be able to reach you – and within a reasonable amount of time, and you can expect that they'll utilize all the options they have. Here are a few things to keep in mind with each contact method.
Business Hours: By posting the hours you're open for business, you're likely to have customers who adjust their schedule, in one way or another, to fit yours. Maybe they leave work a little earlier so they can stop by your shop, or perhaps they set aside a portion of their lunch so they have time to call. Discovering a business isn't open when their website says it should be open is a frustrating experience. Only make your hours available to your customers if you plan to stick to them. If you plan to close an hour for lunch, or if your day ends early on Fridays, make sure that information is available too.
Email: Email can be one of the easiest and most convenient communication options because both business owners and customers can express their thoughts on their own time, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's right for every company. In some instances, transactions can't be made over email or the nature of your business might make email communication difficult. If corresponding through email isn't realistic for you or your company, don't include it just for the sake of including it. If you do include an email address, let customers know when they can expect a reply.
Online Submission Form: An online submission form can be a fun addition to your website, allowing people to connect with your company in a fast and easy way. As submission forms are usually tied to an email address, the same expectations are in place. Remember to keep the email address current and to check the account for new messages on a daily basis.
Skype: For the right company, letting your customers contact you through Skype can build strong relationships while reflecting your company's trendy culture. For other companies, it can be an unrealistic option or an unwelcome distraction. If you like the idea of video chats, but not their spontaneity, consider offering Skype sessions by appointment only.
Phone: If you choose to include your phone number, you may want to consider including your business hours as well. This will prevent people from calling your company when it isn't open, and it will prevent you from receiving business calls when you're not working. If you have a home office and are reluctant about giving out your personal digits, consider setting up a new number for business purposes through Google or Skype.
Physical Address: By including a physical address as part of your contact information, you can probably expect to receive some unsolicited mail and even a few surprise visitors. If you're uncomfortable with people dropping by, or if you run your business out of your home, consider omitting your address and offering a P.O. Box instead.