How Do You Want to Contact Us?
Stephanie Hay, Former Viget
A simple "Contact Us" page makes me happy. There's nothing I find more frustrating when I need help from a provider than to find no phone numbers anywhere. OR, only finding a phone number when my issue isn't pressing and I'd rather just drop them an email.
An example of one I love is DirecTV's. A couple times I've had random questions about programming and equipment, so I drop an email. They've always responded within 24 hours. The handful of times I've needed immediate attention, I easily find a phone number (or many), and, luckily, I haven't spent more than a few minutes on hold before speaking to a human.
Cox attempts to do the same under "Customer Support," but I have to click a few times to get where I want, which isn't necessarily a bad thing as much as it's just not as straightforward. Same with Verizon, which has me choose which category my specific problem falls into; thankfully, they offer a "none of the above" option, which seems to always be my choice.
Apple clearly prefers that I call, plus I have to jump through some diagnostic hoops before I'm allowed to submit an email. Dell is the same way, except they won't let me email or join in a 24/7 chat unless I have a service tag. Sure, these are both logical requests of me, but I'd argue that they don't necessarily equate to a frustrated user as the most friendly or efficient.
Anyway, I've noticed that more behemeth companies are straying from what seemingly used to be the "Contact Us on Our Terms" pages, which had a choose-your-adventure style process that may or may not end with actually contacting the company. Maybe I'm just getting to be a more patient user, but as big businesses like CNN and Starbucks start making attempts to interact with their direct users, I'm betting that I wasn't the only person who found convoluted "Contact Us" pages maddening.