Ideas & musings about consumer behaviour

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By Jeremy Weinstein, Senior Client Advisor, Global Reviews @drjezza

So here’s the rub… apparently putting the phone number of your organisation on the web site drives traffic to the call centre – this is according to some of Australia’s leading businesses.

So the argument goes; businesses would prefer to hide the phone number of the call centre, thus making it more difficult for prospects to make contact, because call centre costs are high and web site costs are relatively low. This is compounded when the website is competing with the call centre for sales targets, so the number is removed from the site – because the number drives calls.

Let’s blame the number!

It’s the number’s fault… I know that when I go to a web site and see a phone number the first thing I want to do is call it, then sit for upwards of 30 minutes with my ear getting hot from the receiver being constantly reminded that my call is important to you and that I have progressed in the queue. In fact that’s why I use company’s websites, to conveniently locate call centre numbers.

Let’s stop kidding ourselves, the problem is not the presence of the number – in fact it’s quite the opposite – ‘easy to locate contact information’ is consistently in the top 10 most important aspects of a web site according to the thousands of people surveyed every year through one of the many Global Reviews studies, across all industries. Moreover, the phone number is seen as increasing trust – by being open and transparent customers subconsciously trust the brand more than they would if the number wasn’t there.

Additional research carried out by Global Reviews also indicates that customers who commence in a particular channel want to complete in the same channel – start on the web, finish on the web – not start on the web finish on the phone!

If that’s the case, why the resistance?

The answer lies in the real reason people reach for the phone and contact the call centre – frustration. When you can’t find what you’re looking for, when there is incomplete or confusing information or when you get stuck somewhere in the site and can’t find your way out, then – and only then – do you do the least enjoyable thing possible and pick up the phone in the hope that it won’t take too long to have your issue resolved.

Most businesses – and especially the web teams within businesses – don’t want to admit that the experience is not good so they conveniently hide the phone number ensuring no calls get made to the call centre to complain about their experience. Furthermore, when the web team competes with the call centre for sales then it’s in the best interest of the web team to advocate the site being sans phone number.

When websites offer an experience that exceeds or even meets customer’s expectations the phone number will be invisible and presenting it on your site will result in increased trust but little, if any, increased strain on your expensive call centre.


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