Web Site Design and Maintenance: Visitor Feedback
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Webmasters often ignore one of the most vital aspects of web site design and maintenance: handling visitor feedback. Knowing how to handle visitor feedback is critical for a web site that wants to have a good reputation. It's how you deliver customer service on the Net whether you run an ecommerce web site or personal one.
Here are tips for handling visitor feedback.
HOW TO RECEIVE VISITOR FEEDBACK:
- A top rule of good web site design and maintenance is to NEVER print your e-mail address online. Use a feedback form. It protects you from spam.
- In the form, ask for the name and contact details of the visitor. If you provide customer service via phone, add an option where they can choose how they'd like you to answer them. Add a drop-down menu for the kind of feedback this is (question, comment, product complaint, suggestion, etc.).
- Don't ask the visitor for too much personal info like a street address, zip code, country and area codes. This makes them wonder if you're going to spam them, or else they don't know to put in. Country and city are enough (you can find codes online).
- Set up an auto-responder. Your e-mail hosting should let you do this, especially if you're running on a paid host. Acknowledge receipt of the feedback and assure the visitor you will respond as soon as possible and so on. Web site design and maintenance require that anyway, for days when you're away.
- Set up mail filters to organize feedback.
HOW TO ANSWER VISITOR FEEDBACK.
- Answer promptly if you can. Don't delay. It makes visitors think you don't check the mail often. It's also a sign of poor web site design and maintenance.
- If you run an ecommerce site, be impersonal. Use "we," "us" and so on instead of "I" and "me." It's more professional. After all, you represent your company, not yourself.
- Address the issue clearly and directly.
- Be courteous and patient even with an idiot. Average users aren't as web-savvy as you are, so understand them if, say, they can't find simple info that's already in your site. Also, include proper salutation.
- Don't put info in a mail that looks like it was copy-pasted from your FAQ or other web page. It makes you sound like a machine. If you're too busy or tired of explaining (many people ignore FAQs), refer them politely to the relevant pages/links.
- Don't spoil your visitors. Sometimes, with personal sites, a visitor comes wanting to stay in touch with you. They may be lonely and nice, or demanding and rude. Either way, it's not your job as a webmaster to be pen pals with them. Distance yourself tactfully or don't answer at all. There are exceptions to this rule, of course. Some webmasters met their spouses in this way. :)
- Ask visitors if they'd mind having their questions answered online. Good web site design and maintenance MUST include updating your Knowledge Base and FAQ. It also saves you the trouble of answering the same questions over and over.
Lastly, don't ignore mail just because you see no profit in it. If you have a pawnshop and someone asks a general question about pawning, be kind enough to reply even if you doubt they'll do business with you. It earns you a reputation for honesty and professionalism.
Hopefully these tips have shown you how to handle visitor feedback. It's a part of web site design and maintenance, so don't ignore it.
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