Your Website’s Forms Could Be Costing You Business
Imagine you’re at the mall shopping for a pair of shoes. You ask the salesclerk for help finding a certain pair in your size. Without saying word, she turns around and walks into the back of the store.
Is she ignoring you?
Is she going to find that pair of shoes you asked for?
Without any clear communication, you’d probably stand there scratching your head, trying to figure out what to do next.
This experience is unlikely to happen in the real world. But in the digital world, this feeling of confusion and abandonment can be all too common for consumers and visitors to business websites.
Interestingly, oftentimes the cause of these confusing experiences are website forms.
Yep, website forms.
Preventing confusion and frustration for your website’s visitors
Whether your website’s forms are for prospective customers requesting quotes, first-time site visitors offering feedback, or existing clients making appointments, you must communicate clearly and provide direction around any action you’d like them to take.
To prevent the confusion and feeling of abandonment shared with you in the story at the beginning of this post, your website’s forms should include:
- Simple, explicit instructions + next steps
- A post-submission confirmation message with contact information
How can website forms possibly cause this kind of confusion??
When a web form doesn’t provide enough information, users can quickly feel frustrated because they typically don’t have the option to ask questions and get immediate answers, like they can with in-person interactions.
Once that “submit” button has been clicked, their form disappears into the Internet ether—and they have no idea what to expect or what to do next.
Should they expect to hear back from you within an hour? Within 2 business days? Were they supposed to provide their phone number? Will you be replying to them by email confirming their appointment or was their appointment confirmed the moment they hit the submit button?
It’s important for your online forms to anticipate your users’ questions—otherwise, you’re leaving them hanging.
Here’s what you need to do
When adding a new form or improving an existing form in your company’s website, think carefully about what your users will likely want to know before and after they submit your form.
Common questions include:
- Did my question/information get submitted correctly?
- How long will it take to receive a response to my question/feedback/appointment request?
- If I haven’t heard back from the company by a certain time, do I need to follow-up somehow?
- How will I receive the response? Via email, phone, mail, fax?
- Are there any next steps I need to take, or should I just wait?
Ideally, information that addresses your users’ most common questions and concerns should go on the same page as your form, so your site visitors can click that “submit” button confidently—knowing exactly what to expect, and exactly what will happen next.
The post-submission screen should include a clear and hard to miss confirmation message that the information was successfully submitted.
You should also include specific contact information of the person or department the user can reach out to if they have further questions or don’t receive a response.
We’d recommend taking this all a step farther, too, by sending a confirmation email with these details in it to the users who submit forms in your website.
You wouldn’t do it there, so why here?
You would never turn your back on an unclear, confused, or hesitant customer asking for help in person—so make sure your website’s forms aren’t doing it, either.