I’m not going to get into the details, but imagine a scenario. A local location of a country-wide department store is hosting an event about a particular manufacturer’s products. I wanted more information about this ‘event’ so I got busy.
I learned of this event on the manufacturer’s website. The only information provided was the dates and the store location. Would there be a presentation? Did the event have a start and end time? Was the ‘event’ simply a means to bring people into the store by the manufacturer sending a marketing person, and calling it an event? I had no idea. Using the contact form on the manufacturer’s web site, I wrote and asked.
I also looked up the department store site. There was nothing about any events. Nothing at all. So I wrote them too, asking the same questions.
The department store replied the next day. Their reply basically was, “We’ve temporarily suspended online sales. Sorry for the inconvenience.” Did they even read my message? I replied stating that there was a misunderstanding because I asked about an event at one particular store. I asked my questions again. I never received a reply.
The only reply I received from the manufacturer came six days after I wrote. It was a server error stating that my e-mail message could not be delivered. See, contact forms are usually fancy front-ends for e-mail. You enter your comment or question, and the web server sends it to a predefined address as an e-mail message. The advantage to them is that it’s convenient for you, and they don’t have to publish any e-mail addresses. In this case, the server wasn’t configured properly. No messages would be delivered, and the writer would only discover this fact a week later…and only if they understood the cryptic server error.
So the manufacturer spent money to send someone out to the store, I presume. The store devoted staff to prepare for the event. But neither company made any real effort to publicise the event to those looking for information on their respective web sites. Further, their use of the Internet to promote their businesses are so poor that they’d probably be better off without an Internet presence at all. Do not invite interested potiential customers to write with comments or questions if you can’t deliver on your promise to respond.
It didn’t cost me anything, but I took ten minutes of my own time to ask simple questions of two organization who want my money. You bet that I’m left with a bad impression when it became clear that I had entirely wasted my time and effort.