Industry Lowdown: Who Includes a Phone Number?

Posted by - Angus Robinson on the 12th October 2018

Including contact details on a business website may seem like an obvious essential. However, recently more and more businesses are avoiding displaying a contact number altogether and instead opting for a web form or email address.

The perks of doing this include a reduction in calls interrupting your day and less money spent manning the phones. However, it’s a risky strategy, as an easy-to-find phone number creates a greater sense of approachability and builds trust between the brand and customer.

Here’s how some top industries in the UK manage their contact details on their business website.

Estate Agents

The majority of real estate companies include local phone numbers. This not only makes them easy to reach, but highlights they’re locals in the area and therefore likely to be experts in dealing in the property market you’re interested in.

However, with so many sectors within real estate, often there can be an overwhelming amount of phone numbers to choose from. There’s a head office line, customer care line, different branch numbers, sales or lettings…

Making the customer journey along a website confusing can spell disaster for conversion rates. This asks the question: should customers be given one number to which an expert can direct their call? Or should customers be given the option to direct themselves?

Technology/IT

Larger tech companies can make finding a phone number notoriously difficult. Technology naturally lends itself to contacting through its own medium. Options like FAQ pages are a quick way to solve many common issues without businesses wasting time on the phone. Similarly, live chat provides a quick and immediate solution to solving enquiries whilst getting on with your day.

However, some questions are too complex for filling out a form and often don’t appear in FAQs. Including at least one phone number would be helpful in this scenario, especially for those who aren’t naturally as tech-minded!

Retail

Large retailers like Amazon, ASOS and eBay don’t include an easy to find phone number, opting for live chat and webforms instead. This prevents an influx of calls and efficiently manages enquiries and complaints procedures.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says “The best customer service is if the customer doesn’t need to call you, doesn’t need to talk to you. It just works.” Although maybe slightly idealistic, striving for this level of customer service whereby a customer doesn’t even need to get in contact, is something all businesses should aim towards.

In comparison to the retail giants, smaller retailers more commonly include a phone number. This creates a personal and local approach to shopping. The customer knows that help is instantly available, helping to humanising a brand and build trust between the two parties.

Council/government services

Despite being a local service, most government bodies seem to do everything possible to push an online process of enquiry. Need to discuss your council tax? Send a web from. Bins didn’t get collected? Send a webform. Want to talk to your local MP? … You get the idea.

With so many departments in a service like a local council; using web forms allow enquiries to be categorised quickly and more efficiently dealt with by the right person. Sending a webform is also preferable to many, as they do not have to wait on hold for hours and both customer and business can continue with their day.

However, only offering web-based support can cause greater customer frustration. There is no way to guarantee a response or a time frame in which it will be given – which is especially annoying if the issue is time-sensitive.

Legal and Financial

The majority of legal firms clearly display a contact number on their website; normally within the header of the homepage. This helps to put both the company’s availability and approachability front and centre. It’s a great way to encourage customers to call and provide a welcoming feel. With complex enquiries more common in this sector, a telephone conversation would often be more appropriate and perhaps less time consuming than a lengthy email or webform.

Overall, industries within the UK vary on whether to include a clear contact number or not. Whilst larger companies tend to opt for webforms and FAQ sections, SMEs appear to provide customers with greater options for getting in touch. Whatever medium businesses decide to handle their customer service; ensuring a prompt response is the most essential component.