Most successful webmasters these days are using FormMail to receive customer feedback and requests.
Customer feedback forms and signup forms are used instead of placing a link to your email address on your site (never a good idea with all the “spam bots” trawling the net for your email address.)
These forms email the queries to your email address or store the information on the web server for you to collect later.
The disadvantage of email as a notification method is that you don't get the information until you check your email account or your web server for the messages.
Delays in responding to queries can be costly, giving a negative impression of your service levels. By the same token, improving your customer responsiveness can improve your sales.
Never closer to a buying decision
The visitor is never closer to making a buying decision than when they are at your website and they've just used that form to contact you. Leave it too long to respond and the visitor may have forgotten all about you or (worse) have made their purchase/signup at another site whose owners got back to them in a more timely manner.
Autoresponders can be used with some success to automate the process of responding to web-based queries, but some requests require human intervention. This could be either to answer a question posed by the customer/prospect or to set up/approve a request before it can proceed to the next stage.
For example, I use FormMail to receive requests for new email addresses at www.coolkiwi.co.nz
Once I receive a request for a new email address I check to make sure it complies with the terms and conditions of use. If all is well I approve the request. If not, I contact the sender explaining what is wrong and asking them to fix it and resubmit the request.
Previously, I would check my emails several times during the day and respond to any new requests in a batch.
Sometimes it would be hours before I got around to checking my emails to see if I had any new requests requiring actioning.
To improve my responsiveness I've now implemented email SMS at some of my sites.
At www.coolkiwi.co.nz for example the visitor's requests get sent to an email address I've set up which delivers the contents of the form to my cellphone as an SMS message. I receive the message almost immediately. I don't just get a notification on my cellphone that I've received an email. I receive the entire message – all the information I need to respond to the request without even checking my email. I can just go right ahead and respond, either by telephone, SMS or by logging on and approving the new customer's email address.
Not only has this saved me a lot of time (time = money!), but it's also improved my customer service levels almost beyond recognition.
Imagine the surprise of a potential client who receives a personal phone call, a personal SMS or a personal email (not just a standard autoresponder message) just minutes after having submitted a query from a website.
Small businesses can have an advantage
This is an area where the small home-based operator can have an advantage over bigger corporations. Because you are smaller you can move more swiftly and give better customer service. But only if you receive queries instantly and can respond to them quickly. Email SMS allows that without having to constantly check your emails every few minutes throughout the day.
What I've done is set up an email SMS account with a web-based SMS provider and then set up a mail-forward using my coolkiwi.co.nz email forwarding service. My Form Mail signup form at www.coolkiwi.co.nz emails the information to this email address, which is then forwarded to the email SMS address which I set up to deliver the messages to my cellphone as SMS mesages. I've also set up a second mail forward from the same coolkiwi.co.nz address which sends a copy of the request to a totally separate email account.
There are many email SMS services available – just do a quick search on Google and you'll find plenty. The one I use charges only 4 cents per email SMS message – a small price to pay for the increase in customer responsiveness which I've achieved.
If you have any quesions about implementing email SMS notification on your website please feel free to contact me at http://contact.coolkiwi.co.nz