First Contact: Are You Ready?
The Paramount Pictures film First Contact is the story of the first contact of the human species with extraterrestrials (Vulcans). The Borg travelled back in time to prevent it from happening as part of their plot to subjugate the human race.
Today, companies face a similar challenge in business. Sure most processes are optimized for the existing customer who knows what to expect. But, what impression does that first contact by a potential buyer make? And in the world of 'instant information gratification' or as the Ask.com people say, 'getification' what are the right approaches to take in the web, in email response and in telephone answering practices that would maximize the impression and maximize the potential of that first contact?
My company, Brockmann & Company recently published a report for marketers, webmasters and email administrators that set out to answer these questions. Here are three key findings:
Email is king of first contact.Half of our business-to-business buyers chose email as their first contact mechanism of choice. So, email is a very important mode of communicating with potential vendors. Buyers chose this mode because it was most convenient - took the least amount of time (compared to a phone call) and could be initiated in a short period of time. Larger buyers were 50% more likely to use email than lesser buyers.
Open contact counts.
83% of buyers said that their perception of a vendor would improve if email and telephone information for real persons were made available on the website. How to use web forms (see example here) to do this is discussed in the report.
Anti-spam security technologies used by the seller matters.
9% of respondents thought a challenge email (reply to the original email to guarantee delivery to the intended person) was frustrating, yet getting their email trapped in the vendor's spam folder was 4 four times MORE frustrating. In fact, getting no response from the vendor was considered less frustrating than having email trapped in the vendor's spam folder. That's because spam filtering continues to inspect incoming email from legitimate business contacts and often interfere with the user's experience with email. Challenge-response technology does not interfere with email from approved senders, they only effect the first time contact, and in this study, the 260 buyers surveyed saw it as an advantage.
The report is available for a limited time as a free download. Check it out.
Peter Brockmann is a high tech consultant and market researcher. Learn more at www.brockmann.com.