Five budget-friendly ways to improve the contact provision on your corporate website

Scott Payton lists quick and cost-effective steps to make it easier for your key audience groups to get their questions answered online. 

Providing prominent and flexible online contact routes not only makes life easier for journalists, investors, customers, suppliers and other groups; it also conveys a powerful impression of openness and transparency – even to people who don’t actually want to get in touch. 
 
That’s the focus of this third article in our series on making big improvements to your online presence with little time and money. 

1: Don’t just bury ‘Contact us’ in your website’s footer

 
On many global corporate websites, users must scroll down to a tiny link at the bottom of pages to find the main contact page. This is frustrating and sends the message ‘please go away’. 
 
So as well as signposting ‘contact us’ in the footer, put a link in the site header (the top-right corner is a conventional and therefore intuitive location). See GSK and Eni for examples.
 
Some companies – such as PepsiCo – go a step further and include ‘Contact’ in their site’s primary menu. 
 
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2: Use IP geolocation detection to route customers to local contacts 

For customer journeys on some global corporate websites, the appropriate contact point depends on the type of customer (business or consumer, for instance) and where the customer is based. 
 
Using IP geolocation detection is an easy way of providing your global site visitors with a default set of contact routes appropriate for their current location – such as links to contact information on the relevant country site. 
 
A point of caution when doing this: make sure it’s easy for customers to switch to contact routes to for a different location: IP geolocation detection may not always show where visitors really are – and even if it does, a visitor may not be accessing your site from where they are usually based.
 
Banking groups ING and HSBC both use IP geolocation detection well in the customer routing tools on their global sites. 
 
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3: Include clear and specific routes on your main contact page for all key audience groups 

Some companies make the mistake of omitting investor and media contact routes on the main contact page, on the grounds that such routes are already – as they should be – provided in the IR and media sections respectively.
 
Other companies omit routes for jobseekers – perhaps for a fear of swamping the HR team with trivial enquiries. 
 
But it’s best to provide routes from the main contact page for all key audiences – even if some routes lead first to FAQs, chatbots or other ‘self-service’ devices that maximise the chances that visitors will find an answer before bothering your humans. 
 
See how Henkel uses expanding panels of FAQs directly on its corporate site's contact page to do this. 
 
This can include routes to country-level contact points where relevant: Unilever’s simple dropdown menu of country contacts, plus direct links to contacts in major markets, works really well. 
 
It’s also increasingly appropriate to include specific contact routes to sustainability departments, on the main contact page. Eni does this prominently. 
 
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4: Include links from the main contact page to relevant social media channels

Including routes on your corporate site’s main contact page to the company’s Facebook, Twitter and other social media presences makes sense, because they too are ways for external audiences to engage with your company. This is particularly true if your firm actively uses social media channels to answer questions. 
 
See Henkel and GSK for examples.
 
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5: Provide flexible contact options

Failing to provide a choice of contact routes will irritate some people – particularly if the sole option is an impersonal web form. Providing a range of phone, email and other options – like live chat – will increase the likelihood that visitors will find a route that suits them; and sends the message to all visitors that the company is working hard to be as open and helpful as possible.
 
This may not be possible for all contact points – especially where there’s a risk of thousands of spurious enquiries. But where it makes logistical sense, it’s worthwhile. 
 
 
For more insights on all aspects of corporate digital communications from the experts who advise 25 of the world's 200 largest companies, download the Index of Online Excellence and subscribe to our weekly newsletter
First published 02 June, 2020
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