Cracking contact

Rich contact information can please website visitors and boost a company's reputation for transparency. Scott Payton visits eight corporate sites that make it exceptionally easy to get in touch. 

Almost every company wants to convey the impression that it’s open to questions from the outside world. But when it comes to the contact provisions on their corporate websites, many firms are inadvertently saying to visitors: ‘please go away’. 

Here are eight examples of companies that send a powerful message of openness by making it particularly simple for customers, investors, journalists and other audiences to make contact:

 

Vinci and Total – slick social contacts

Many journalists are heavy users of Twitter. So it makes sense to put press officers’ Twitter handles on the press contacts page, alongside the usual phone numbers and email addresses. French construction group Vinci has done this on its rich and easy to find ‘Media contacts’ page. Vinci also includes links to the LinkedIn profiles of each of its four press officers – as well as its two investor relations officers. The inclusion of IR contacts on the Media contacts page is in itself thoughtful touch. 

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Another French corporate giant, energy group Total, also provides unusual social signposts on its global site: a social media directory in the Media section contains a prominent link to the chief executive’s ‘influencer profile’ on LinkedIn. While not a ‘contact’ channel as such, it’s still an effective way of conveying the impression that the CEO is keen to ‘connect’ with external audiences. 

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TNO and KPMG – excellent expert directories

Dutch research organisation TNO has a search tool on its global website that allows users to find the contact details of all of its researchers as well as other employees. A set of filters in the left column allows users to search for people by theme – such as ‘Traffic & Transport’ and ‘Information & Communication Technology’ – and by function, including press and human resources. 

Contact details for each employee include a photo – which itself sends a message of openness – as well as phone number, email and sometimes LinkedIn profile. 

In the Careers section of TNO’s site, there are big panels containing further contact details for relevant HR contacts for jobseekers. Here’s an example. 

The impression all this creates is of an extremely open and accessible organisation that is confident about engaging with the outside world.

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Another ‘knowledge’-focused organisation, Dutch professional services firm KPMG, also makes it usually easy for website visitors to find the contact details of a relevant in-house expert. On the ‘Contact’ page of KPMG’s global site, a simple set of dropdown menus invites users to drill down by country, then service (audit, advisory, etc), and industry.  The names and titles of relevant contacts then appear, with links to an email form for each, plus links to deeper contact pages for each expert, housing biography, phone number and other useful information. 

Overall, it’s a powerful tool for pulling in potential customers – and also shows off the depth and breadth of KPMG’s expertise to all audiences.

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Henkel, Swiss Re and Hannover Re – superb CSR contacts

It’s pretty conventional for companies to provide detailed press and IR contacts on their corporate sites. Less so for CSR contacts: a generic email address at the back of the CSR report is too often the only relevant contact point provided.

In contrast, German chemical and consumer goods company Henkel provides a prominently signposted ‘Sustainability Contacts’ page with full contact details for no less than 10 CSR contacts, plus three further contacts at Henkel’s foundations. 

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As we pointed out in a recent BC Tip, Zurich-based reinsurance firm Swiss Re also peppers its global site’s Corporate responsibility section with CSR contact information. 

Meanwhile, Swiss Re’s German peer Hannover Re has a dedicated CSR contacts page, with phone, fax and web form contact details for four relevant people in the firm (in corporate communications and investor relations).

Again, such prominent and detailed contact information isn’t just useful to visitors; it also conveys a message of openness.

GSK – comprehensive contact hub

A common weakness on corporate sites’ main contact pages is a failure to cater for all key audiences. Jobseekers – often the largest visitor group on such sites – are often forgotten, for example. So are groups such as partners and suppliers. 

UK pharmaceuticals company GSK’s easy to find ‘Contact us’ page stands out for its thoroughness.

The page has clear routes to global and local contact information for a wealth of audience groups – including partners and suppliers as well as jobseekers, patients, potential whistle-blowers, and others. Links to GSK’s presence on Facebook and Twitter are included on the page, too – which makes sense, because these are contact points, too. 

Finally, GSK’s main contact page also includes signposts to other parts of the company’s web estate in which visitors will find answers to common queries – such as how and where to apply for a job. Helping visitors to help themselves in this way pays dividends on a corporate site’s contacts page – because it can free up time and resources for answering trickier questions manually.  

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- By Scott Payton

First published 29 January, 2019
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