9 Ways to Improve Customer Communication on Your Website
If you’re like most business owners, getting leads online is the main reason you created a website in the first place. Sure,
you may have a stellar SEO campaign, a beautiful design and an uber low bounce rate, but without a well-planned
contact strategy, you can’t turn those page views into conversions.
Online conversions aren’t just for ecommerce websites. In fact, most businesses use their websites to initiate one-on-one
conversations. By personally engaging a contact, you are more likely to turn that contact into a customer. So, what’s
Go with the Flow
Website usability is built on convention. Follow tried and true design strategies to ensure that your users can move
through your site as easily as possible. Remember, the less effort, the better.
Use the words “Contact Us.” It may sound boring or generic, but the phrase works. (There’s a reason exit signs don’t use
the words “leave” or “depart.”) People don’t read your site — they scan — and they’ve been trained over time to
instantly recognize those two words.
Place contact info and phone number at the top, right corner of the page, where it’s expected. Also, make sure to
include your phone number as an HTML, not an image. That way, a mobile user can tap the phone number link and
launch into a call immediately.
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Keep contact forms simple. While it may help to get a full profile of your visitor by asking pre-qualifying questions, it can
be very intimidating for that user.
Create one-column form fields for quick contact. It helps to put form labels directly above form fields. Usability studies
show that users who filled out these types of forms saved time by only having to move their eyes vertically, not laterally.
Don’t be afraid of large input boxes. While considered a design trend, large input boxes are not only more fun to fill out,
but also force you to limit the number of fields on a contact form.
Give visitors a clear action button. Because people read from left to right and top to bottom, place the final action
button in the lower right of the form. Give the button plenty of weight with a standout color.
Be Reassuring. Trust goes a long way with online clients. People fear that their contact information will get dumped into a
huge database that marketers can access at will. By making your contact form unique, fun and reassuring, your user will
know there’s a human on the receiving end and, therefore, be more likely to share.
Have some fun. Nothing eases people’s worries better than good humor. Why not spice up your contact form with some
Make a promise. Tell your users that their information is safe
Offer Instant Chat Instant chat has been around for quite some time, but has traditionally only been used by the
customer service departments of large Internet companies. Now, many low-cost services enable your users to reach you
instantly wherever you are.
The future is instant. Perhaps the lowest website threshold is instant chat. It requires the user to supply little, if any, personal
information and allows you to provide quick and personal customer service. Consider giving one of these services a
LiveChat: Unlike other services, LiveChat offers a range of innovative features and third-party integration modules. You
can use Facebook to gain access to your users’ social media profiles, Skype to elevate the chat into a phone call and
Join.Me to perform a screen share. LiveChat also offers a free trial that makes trying this service a no-brainer.
See it in action on our website: http://www.ACEC-website.org
Olark: Another promising contender, Olark features a beautiful and seamless user experience; great reporting tools, CRM
and Helpdesk integration, and it works with just about any IM client. Plus, you can live chat with a customer straight from
your mobile phone. While not as feature-rich as some of its competitors, Olark is an efficient and inexpensive solution that
fills the needs of most businesses. For full story visit: http://mashable.com/2011/12/03/improve-contact-us-website/
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Do you know what the following two symbols mean in the world of Social Media?
The @ symbol?
The # symbol?
I am still amazed at the number of
companies that use social media badly (or
ignore it altogether). The rules of social
media are simple, and if you ignore it you
the risk the fate that befell those who
ignored the telephone in the late 19th
century and the Internet at the end of the 20th.
If you're just getting started, you're late--but you can still
catch up. And I'm not just talking about trendy,
consumer-facing companies. A study published in
February by the CEB's Marketing Leadership Council
reported that 57 percent of B-to-B buyers research your
company on their own online before they pick up the
phone or email you for a sales pitch or more information.
This stark reality makes it more important that you
embrace social media--now.
Here are some simple tips I have learned as I have
worked to master social media for my different
Here are some simple tips I have learned as I have
worked to master social media for my different
This is huge. Don't be afraid: jump in. Yes, your first posts
will be awkward, but you have to start somewhere.
2. It Takes Time
Many business owners I meet who are new to social
media get frustrated with it too quickly. Building an
authentic and engaged audience takes time. Don't allow
yourself to get snowed under by frustration--think of it, as
you would build any part of your business. Being patient is
important to the success of this effort.
3. Don't Try to Do Everything
Find the channel that feels the most natural and focus on
it. I love Twitter and use it all the time. The short bursts and
speed of information fit my style. I am a casual visitor to
other social media channels and will often share what I
learn in those avenues back to my first love, Twitter.
4. Be Helpful
Share content or information that you find helpful. If you
are reading an article on a site or attending a
conference and you find a piece of content compelling,
others will too.
5. Don't Focus on Feedback
Don't be worried about getting responses. I am always
amazed when I run into people who regularly read my
updates and find them useful, but never respond to me.
6. Share Something Personal
Especially, if you are tweeting from your own account. I
often tweet about the funny things my daughter says and
does--she's affectionately known as "Teen" to my followers.
These updates let others know that there is a person
behind my account.
7. Avoid Social Media Blindness
As a business owner, only tweet things you have read.
Resist the temptation to set up a feed that tweets
everything related to a topic or an interest. Not only can
this be very annoying to your followers, it lessens your
credibility. It's embarrassing when someone asks you
about your opinion on something you shared and you
have no idea what he or she is talking about.
8. Ask for Advice
A secret tip that has worked for me is both asking for
advice from others and intentionally looking to answer
questions posed across social media. This is a great way to
learn about a topic and start a dialogue with someone
9. Say Thank You
It's true in life and it's true on Twitter: If someone takes the
time to retweet something you post--certainly if they take
the time to make a specific comment--a simple thank you
back goes a long way.
10. Pay Attention
It's about lasting connections: If someone you follow posts
something that interests you or moves you, were sure to
11. Encourage Sharing
Especially when you use Twitter, leave room for other
people's comments. You think 120 characters are tough?
Well, the ideal tweet is 120 character or fewer. Simply
using the words "share this" have proven to be a strong
call to action.
Nobody likes spam. When users decide whether to follow
you, most evaluate the totality of your social media
account. They will look at your last page or so of updates.
They want to see that you are interesting, engaged, and
that what you share is useful.
12. It's About All of You
Nobody likes spam. When users decide whether to follow
you, most evaluate the totality of your social media account.
They will look at your last page or so of updates. They want to
Social Networking Protocol
TOP APPS TO MAKE AN EXECUTIVE COACH’S LIFE EASIER
When I first agreed to write an article about the top apps for Executive Coaches, I thought it would be a snap. After all,
this area is certainly one of our biggest industries — surprisingly, though, it is not readily recognized as such in the APP
world. In 2012, the ICF Global Coaching Study revealed that, the profession appears to be growing, with an estimated
47,500 professional coaches generating close to $2 billion dollars in annual revenue/income, with expectations over the
next 12 months of experiencing increasing demand (clients and sessions) which will lead to growth in annual revenue
and income from coaching. So why are there no apps specific to the industry? The answer remains to be identified.
So after much research, I was shocked to find that the world of “there’s an app for that” has basically ignored the
Executive Coaching field. I’m not talking about the big on-line calendaring; I’m talking about everyday apps that would
make our lives easier in relationship to accomplishing our goals as HR professionals.
After much disappointment, I thought about tackling this from a different perspective. In lieu of identifying the best apps
for executive coaches I looked for and tested the best apps to decrease stress and at the same time allow us to
increase our productivity as single practitioners. Along the way, I realized that these apps could be found if I searched
for apps that fit a concept I call “FITs (Flexible IT Systems).” If your company’s IT system is designed based on the FITs
model. This flexibility will allow employees to retrofit their system to increase their productivity; this verses forcing
employees to increase productivity with a system that does not mirror their strengths.
Here are my top eight recommendations for coaching professionals based on the FITs model. Remember that with apps
one size does not fit all; if it is not the exact product that will work for you look for others with a similar concept but are
different enough for you to feel comfortable using them. For example, one of my favorite apps, which allowed me to
put, a timer on my computer is there were ten different apps for that.
Note: All of the following apps are available for Mac and Android systems.
1. LucyPhone [http://www.lucyphone.com]
In a recent Consumer Reports survey about everyday annoyances, with 10 being “annoys you tremendously,”
respondents rated the failure to get a human on a customer service line at 8.6, second only to hidden fees (8.9). This is
shocking. I would have thought it would have been 12.9!
Not to worry. It is time to join forces since we can’t beat the system. A new company, LucyPhone, is offering a solution:
when put on hold, users can hang up and are then called back when a customer service representative finally picks up.
Don’t you love it!
This does require cooperation from agents. They pick up the call and hear a recorded message telling them to press 1 to
be connected with the waiting customer, whose phone then rings. Call center employees are, oddly enough,
accustomed to dealing only with humans, and some hang up when they encounter the message.
APPS Making Our Life Easier
“It’s definitely a challenge, but after the folks over at LucyPhone reached
out to companies, they can go from hanging up 30 percent of the time to
being complete LucyPhone fanatics and calling back 100 percent of the
time,” says creator Tom Oristian.
Overall, fewer than 10 percent of users are left hanging because the agent
hangs up, according to LucyPhone.
The company uses Twitter as a carrot for new customers. It also uses it as a
weapon when users’ calls are dropped. Users are then encouraged to send
a predesigned message to Twitter, which scolds the company with a
message, that companies notice because they monitor Twitter closely. One
recent message, for example, read, “#PNCBank Don’t hang up on
2. WeTransfer [https://www.wetransfer.com]:
This is one of my top three favorite apps, which has made my business life so
I now do not have to fear that after waiting for ages for Google’s Gmail to
tell me that I’m timed out because a file is too large to send (and without
instructions about what to do!), WeTransfer has come to my and your rescue.
It is a free online file-transferring platform, which basically means that all you
have to do is select the receiver and then select the file, music, or image you
want to send. Next press the send button, and magically they transfer your
data to your receiver. There’s no hassle, no stress, and no charge. Anyone in
the world can send up to 2GB per transfer.
Best of all this means no more waiting for ages for a large file to go through
your email system only to receive the annoying message that your file is too
3. Clean Print [http://www.formatdynamics.com]
This is another of my top three app picks.
You know how annoying it is when you are trying to copy an article to email
it to a colleague and you end up with all of the advertising? If you want it to
look clean, you have to try to delete all of the extraneous information. What
if you are trying to save the article for future reference and put it in a specific
folder? Now you have the horrendous task of having to use Adobe to save it
as a PDF. No one wants to experience this.
Welcome to CleanPrint. Not only is it an economically and ecologically
friendly print tool that saves you time, aggravation, paper, ink, and money,
but it also makes your output look great.
Simply save the CleanPrint icon to your tool bar. Then when you need to
activate it, you place your cursor next to the article and click your icon
instead of your print or save button. Before printing or saving content, you
can add a note, eliminate images, increase or decrease font size, and
eliminate text to save ink and paper. You can send your web page to any
number of places, including your printer, Google Cloud Print, PDF document,
rich text format, e-mail, Dropbox, Google Drive, Box accounts and your
4. Snagit [http://www.techsmith.com/snagit.html]:
Imagine capturing a screen from a webpage and then being able to
highlight sections, add call outs, use arrows, circle words, photos, etc.
Imagine it no more! Snagit is a great app for that and more.
If you regularly copy images, web pages, and screen views to save, embed,
share, and use in other ways, Snagit is well worth trying. It’s free to use for 30
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Snagit ups the ante of CleanPrint. Calling TechSmith’s Snagit a screen capture tool is a bit like calling a Swiss army knife a
knife. Yes, it’s first and foremost a screen capture tool, and a very good one at that. However, Snagit offers a lot more
than the other free gadgets that are out there that capture screen images. This includes Apple’s Grabit, which comes
pre-installed on their Mac computers.
In fact, Snagit is more of a graphics toolkit optimized for capturing and using onscreen images and information than a
screen grabber. Snagit is advanced enough to enhance productivity for business users and other professionals, but it’s
also easy enough for home users to start up with. Snagit is absolutely my new online toy.
This is an awesome tool for use in meetings as well as for editors, trainers, and the rest of the world!
5. LastPass [https://lastpass.com]:
LastPass is a secure password manager for all your web passwords at work and at home. Like other web-focused
password managers, LastPass puts all of your individual passwords behind one master password. When you type in that
master password, LastPass can then automatically log you in to any web site you visit with saved login credentials. Even
better, LastPass syncs passwords over the Internet, so all your saved passwords on your work computer, for example, will
always be synced up on your home computer.
Caution: If you use a Mac, then you know you always have to have another browser besides Safari. LastPass must be
installed on every browser.
What I particularly love is that it can also create truly unique passwords and then remember them. Additionally it has an
autofill feature. For those who are not familiar with this feature, it is a time saver bar none. If you are tired of continually
filling in your company name, address, phone number, and credit card number, autofill does this for you while keeping
the information secure. I must tell you that this app does require a learning curve.
6. CrashPlan [http://www.crashplan.com]:
I admit that I have yet to get CrashPlan to do what it promises. However, their customer response time is excellent and its
promise is compelling.
I’m sure I’m not alone in having experienced the nightmare where a wireless back up system lost all of my files. All of my
data was lost by a 2nd level (senior) technician; he was trying to remotely set up my Time Machine. Yes, the unthinkable
happened. This happened to me a year ago, and I‘m still trying to recreate data that my office needs including lost
As this is probably something we have all faced, especially when we call the experts for help (whether it is Apple, Dell,
Microsoft or cousin Sarah’s computer and uncle Smyth’s software services), I not only recommend different sources for
backing up your data, I recommend backing up the backup.
To avoid being an innocent victim like I was, the most recommended app is CrashPlan. It is said to be the most
comprehensive online backup solution. It uses a 448-bit encryption! With one easy interface, you’ll have total peace of
CrashPlan has received accolades for its continuous, silent, minute-by-minute protection. Computers are not bogged
down while it’s running while you work, backing up your most recent keystrokes. The system also backs up photo edits
and playlists. There are different plans to meet different budgets and space requirements, including a robust free
The fee-based version is CrashPlan Plus. Here you can back up your data off site in multi-destinations, including backing
up to a cloud, an external drive, securely to a friend’s computer, or all three for maximum protection. The issue I’ve had
is that it is only backing up 46%. But 46% is better than zero, especially since it IDs the backup to my backup’s backup,
and I have not yet followed their instructions to correct the problem.
7. Wunderlist [http://wunderlist.en.softonic.com]:
Whether you’re organizing your business, sharing a shopping list with a loved one or simply keeping track of your daily
life, Wunderlist is the best to-do list for you, your team, or your family. The new “action bar” makes it easier to email to-dos
and lists, share them with others, and quickly see who’s working on what if you’re working in a group. The bar also makes
it easy to quickly sort your to-dos and lists so the things you need to work on are right up front, or you can see what’s next
on your plate. But it does not stop there. It will actually send you a screen blast reminder to take the action you have
Wunderlist Pro is a new premium service for $5/month (or $50/year) that includes features for groups and teams who
need a more robust collaboration tool. This includes the ability to easily assign to-dos to others, share lists, and as many
subtasks and dependent to-dos for any item on your list. Wunderlist Pro users also get some custom backgrounds to
customize the look and feel of the app.
I’m quite happy with just the free version. It is another of my new toys.
8. OpenSignal [http://www.opensignal.com]
OpenSignal is a Wi-Fi and signal-finder toolkit. This handy app helps you find the best wireless hotspots to improve your
connectivity. OpenSignal helps keep you better connected by giving you a practical solution to the problems of slow
mobile Internet and dropped calls. Simply follow the signal compass to walk toward a better phone signal, or view the
in-app coverage maps to work out which carrier is best for where you are. This is especially useful if you’re thinking about
making a change in your carrier.
The Wi-Fi maps help you to find local public access wireless networks. It’s helpful if you’re traveling abroad or just want to
find a local cafe with free Wi-Fi. The signal compass points you in the direction your signal is coming from. Just walk
toward it! Don’t worry if you look like a robot walking toward your signal. The truth is that you’ll be the only one “in the
So, my dear colleagues, it has become abundantly clear to me that as our world has been simplified, it has also
become more complicated. I’m not sure if technology is helping or hindering us. Just kidding. Two rounds of applause
for apps! They are coming at us fast and furious. There is literately an app for all. App has become the new norm so
climb on board.
Please send me your favorite app at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will investigate it for my next round up of must-have
apps that make an HR’s executive’s life a little easier.
CB Bowman, MBA, BCC, CMC, MCEC, is CEO and Founder of the Association of Corporate Executive
Coaches (www.acec-website.org) and CEO of Executive Leadership, LLC (www.exec-leadershipllc.com.) ELLLC is the
go to company for emerging leaders, mid-level managers, senior leaders, and organizations seeking human capital
repositioning, development and/or growth through coaching, counseling, and/or strategic advice. Her focus is in
corporate executive coaching, training and human capital initiatives involving the development of cognitive listening,
leadership skills and behavior, transitional coaching, executive presence and branding, knowledge transfer,
performance evaluation, strategic career management and marketing. Additionally, Bowman is an adjunct professor at
Rutgers University, in the Center for Management.
Mark K. House Nice article and thanks for sharing your tricks and tips. Another great list is provided by Michael Hyatt –
not a coach, but does a lot of what we as coaches do. His description of tools is top notch and well worth pursuing,
particularly if you blog, write, or speak to complement your business.
Nico Liebenberg Hallo CB. An informative article. Thanks. I am currently designing and developing an internet-based
coaching program that will make the Coach’s (Executive-, Life-, Performance-, etc., etc.) life much easier. It will be
launched soon with whole host of niceness to increase the effectiveness of Coaches. I will keep you updated. Nico.
Tanis Cornell Great article with lots of good information even for people who aren’t executive coaches!
Life Coach George Thanks CB – I never knew about #2 mentioned above (WeTransfer). This looks like something that can
help me out…
Nicolas Sotelo Mucvas gracias por la nota! Muy interesante y de gran aporte para mi dia a dia. Me descargue
Wunderlist. Ahora soy el Wonderman de las listas!ajajaja
Judith Costa Great article. Nice tips. Thank you so much!!!!