New Technologies Don’t Obviate Human Interaction
As I was reading the Wall Street Journal last week, I came across the results of a survey which showed that despite advances in social media, chat and interactive contact us pages, a vast majority of people still preferred to have their questions answered over the phone. “According to a survey by American Express Co., about 90 percent of respondents said they still want their inquiries handled by live representatives over the good old telephone.” More details on the survey by American Express can be found here and at other news outlets.
When a university creates a website to promote their school, the site always has a “contact us” page. Sometimes that contact page has a form for visitors to fill out and submit, but you can always find a phone number, email address and postal address located somewhere nearby. When you see ads on the television for local and national colleges you will always see the commercial end with both a phone number and a web address. More recently some TV commercials even include mobile short codes so that potential students can text the school to get information.
These two facts beg the question, “If a college or university thinks it is important to have a phone number in their TV commercials, billboard ads, and especially on their own ‘contact us’ page, why don’t more schools place a phone number on contact forms they are running on other websites?”
While we do not yet have a full survey to explain the thought process of the web page visitors, we do know through our own analysis that inbound calls convert to starts at a rate consistently three times higher than completed data forms. There are a few clear points that can be summed up in contact rate, intent and exclusivity. Consider that on average a school only reaches two-thirds of the prospective students who complete online forms and the average student inquiry for private sector education is sold to at least two schools. Which student seems more proactive about getting an education – the one that calls the schools admissions department or another who fills out multiple forms waiting to be contacted?
At the end of the day placing phone numbers on web forms makes just as much sense as placing a phone number in a TV commercial or a print advertisement. With all of the online identity theft issues and privacy concerns some people just don’t want to provide personal information over the Internet. Even more clear is what American Express survey found — despite all the contact options and technical advances, most people still have a preference for the good old telephone and the sound of the human voice.
This entry was posted on Friday, May 6th, 2011 at 10:00 am and is filed under Inquiry Generation Blogroll. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.