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By B.L. Ochman

I don’t know about you, but when I have a question or problem with a company, I look for a phone number on their homepage.

Usually, that requires digging down through several Contact Us links, and then sifting through the frustrating “don’t bother us” options on the so-called customer service number.

Of course I understand that having live customer service is expensive. But given the millions but the Fortune 50 spend on advertising and marketing, it seems America’s biggest companies should be able to afford to have human beings answering their phone.

So I took a look at their homepages, and was surprised to see that 47 of the Fortune 50 have no phone number on their homepage. Some don’t even have a Contact Us link.

Even AT&T and Verizon – which are, ahem, PHONE companies have no phone numbers on their homepages.

The only three Fortune 50 companies with phone numbers on their homepage are Dell, Home Depot and Lowes.

Consumer disconnect
America’s biggest companies don’t make it easy for consumers to call them, despite the facts that:

  • 61% of smartphone users call a business, 59% visit a business and 44% actually make a purchase.
  • smartphone users who are seeking local information are quick to take action—88% of local information seekers take action within a day
  • 93% of smartphone users use their phones at home, according to TechCrunch.
  • 82% of Americans report that they’ve stopped doing business with companies because of poor customer service

No wonder consumers are frustrated!
The Fortune 50 spend millions of dollars trying to raise awareness of their brands: buying ads on TV, online, in newspapers, magazines, and out of home. But most ads, and most websites, don’t include compelling reasons, or ways, to take action.

As a recent What’s Next Blog study proved, 56 percent of the Fortune 50 do not include social media links on their homepage. And even when they do, those links rarely lead to live human customer service problem solvers.

What’s the cost?
Despite the hype and hoopla, we’re still in the earliest phases of social media adoption. While elusive “influencers” are on Twitter, most of the world, and most consumers, still are not.

Making it easy for customers to contact a human – especially from a mobile phone – is going the way of the dinosaur, and that’s a huge mistake.

Sure it costs money to have human beings answer a telephone and help customers. And if that sounds expensive, consider what it costs to have customers buy from companies who make it easy to reach a human.