Is voice about to make a comeback?

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I recently found a website I might have been interested in bar the fact that they made it too difficult to contact them. Their contact page simply had a contact form saying that they have so many enquiries every day that they only accept questions via email. As well as no phone number their website also had no physical address details.

Whilst you may be busy running your business contact information (not only a legal requirement for distance selling!) gives buyers confidence that if they do need to contact you that they can.

Writing on eSeller recently, James Critchley, CEO of cloud-IQpoints out that callback buttons boost sales by upwards of 10% for online retailers. He quotes Forrester Research as finding that for every £100 organisations spend getting customers to a website, only £1 goes into converting them. Attracting traffic is the first step to conversion and closing the sale is what needs focusing on.

Callback buttons are great, they enable a buyer to instantly click to talk to you, but even displaying a good old fashioned phone number can make the difference between getting a sale and wasting your SEO funds. If you do display a number remember that whilst 0845 type numbers may be billed at local rates from a land line they’re rarely included in the free minutes on a mobile tariff – offer your geographic number as an alternative to enable customers to call you for free.

I’ve never understood retailers, whether on eBay or their own website, don’t make it easy for customer to call them. Sure there are times of day you don’t want calls such as the middle of the night, that’s what answering machines are for. However as James concluded people buy from people so embrace good old fashioned voice (even if with the latest technology) and then people get to do business with people again.

37 Responses

  1. This is a subject of great frustration for me.

    I buy many things online and can not believe that so many sellers (especially on eBay) neither publish a contact number or provide one when requested.

    I am mainly referring to “Business Sellers” although a great number of private sellers also refuse to give a tel number when asked, choosing instead to say “please communicate by email or ebay message”.

    I have no confidence in sellers like this and if I spot a Business Seller with no telephone contact info then I always purchase elsewhere. In the case of private or occasional sellers I wonder two things: A) Are they hiding something, and B) If the ad was in a local paper then they would have to provide a phone number, so why not now?

    I am sure there are others who feel the same and I wonder how much business these sellers are losing.

    Are they afraid to talk?

    I sometimes think, after speaking to some sellers, that in this day and age the general ability to communicate and converse (especially by younger members of society) is seriously deficient or perhaps even retarded. They seem to do everything possible to avoid talking to a prospective buyer. They even make excuses like “I’ve had problems with eBay members calling me in the past!!”.

    Its both sad and very pathetic!

  2. yes were afraid.we dont need every half wit and idiot ringing us day and night asking idiotic questions,

  3. in addition we are not a social service or a lonely hearts club, we provide clear terms,descriptions,images, if you cant understand this information we dont need your business

  4. We welcome customers phoning us, sometimes we drop the ball and miss a piece of information, any way we can help someone to give us money is welcomed, granted they can only get through within business hours.
    An answerphone however is a really bad idea, we have ours play a message giving email details and it will not allow you to leave a message, the main reason being the amount of people who do this:

    “Hi, I have an important query [insert waffle here] please get back to me ASAP or I will destroy you!!!” and then fail to leave a return phone number or any clue to who they are…

    It still happens when customers email directly but at least there is a reply button!

  5. Not entirely related to the main topic but possibly useful for some as it relates to communication.

    We need a phone number to arrange delivery with our customers because of size of the product but it was becoming increasingly hit and miss on whether we actually are shown a tel. number when you process an order on eBay/or the tel. number is out of date.

    I discovered via TameBay (my apologies to the poster who’s name I forget) that you could flick a switch within your eBay settings and make a telephone number mandatory.

    For a month or so this ran like a dream, but at the same time, sales of our smaller items dropped off a cliff, at the time I didn’t connect this with the recent change we made to the info we required for our main products, it was only a couple of weeks ago when a guy emailed me after buying a BIN asking me “why the hell do you need my phone number to deliver a bottle of bubble bath?”

    Fair question. He wouldn’t pay and we cancelled.

    Anyway, we’ve changed back to the crappy hit and miss service we have been used to and sales of smaller items have shot right back up.

  6. Whether you can invite customers to call you or not depends to a large degree on margin.

    A company selling high-end fashion products like can reap the benefit of offering exceptional phone support.

    On the flip side, other companies like are very much focused on volume and selling via the marketplaces which means opening up a phone support line 8-5 is likely to be more hassle than it is worth.

    That is not to say that great customer service relies on the phone.

    It doesn’t.

    Look at I’ve never spoken to anyone from Amazon and I’d say that their customer service is OK.

    A US bank did a survey many years ago and found that customers that only interacted online and not with a human rated the customer service higher.

    So….what does this mean for eCommerce?

    Automating customer service is critical. Customers call for 2 few main things:

    1. To check stock availability
    2. To check order status

    The remedies we are seeing work best are as follows:

    1. Show live stock on your website – which means customers don’t need to call and you never oversell.
    2. Keep them informed of order status. Try emails for ‘Your order is being picked’ ‘Your order has been picked’ ‘ Your order has been despatched’

    Shining some light on the black hole that we are all left in after ordering from a website removes our temptation to simply pick up the phone.

    In the case of both companies mentioned, employing the tactics described has seen their ratings soar.

  7. Profit is the only thing that makes a business !
    if our main business were talking and writing about selling ,we would have perfect customer service too

  8. of course customer service is important, we dont kid ourselves were special wonderful or nice, its a means of keeping the buyers money, or making them spend more

  9. You are unreal!!

    Do you really believe everything you have said or is it just some “attitude”?

    If it’s truly what you believe you are either very young or immature and have a really poor attitude to conducting business. I’m guessing its a bit of all three, and in future years I’m sure you will think about this and realise how much your current attitude and ethics are lacking.

    I’ll even go a step further to suggest that you are under 18 (15 or even younger maybe) and advise you to discuss your comments and views with a responsible adult or guardian who I can assure you will tell you that your approach to business is seriously misinformed and lacking in all credibility.

    BTW, what did you say the name of your eBay business is?

  10. OK, if you are right and he really believes what hes said and isn’t just winding people up then I expect him to reply with another torrent of ignorant opnions but I doubt he will disclose his trading name and eBay ID – and by not stating that he clearly doubts the validity of his own views.

    Guess we’ll see…..

  11. I’m guessing you and Peter King are related. Blocking anyone who asks a question in advance?

    Totally unreal!!

    You live in a different world mate.

    Pls don’t bother replying, i’m bored with all this now.

  12. come on alex stop kopping out, your the one looking down your nose from an ivory tower, show us why your superior



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