When potential customers visit your website and decide to fill in your contact form and click “submit”, they are taking a leap of faith. They have given you something of themselves and trust you to give something back in the form of information or, at the very least, acknowledgment. They are alone in the wilderness until you respond, and if you don’t, you have broken that trust and lost a customer.
And the thing is that you may never know this.
That’s why one of the most important website maintenance tasks you can perform is to test your contact form on a regular basis by actually using it to send yourself a message.
Three common culprits are:
Problem 1: Your form-to-mail script is broken or obsolete
Evidence: When you try to submit the form, you’ll get an error message on the site with technical language that probably includes keywords like “configuration”, “script”, “PHP”, “Perl”, and/or “CGI”. This is a sign of a “server-side” problem.
Solution: If your contact form used to work fine, and you know that nothing has changed on your end, find out if your web hosting service has made recent updates that affect the use of mail forms. If so, they will tell you what to do to get mail forms working again (you may need to use a different script). If not, there may be a temporary glitch in the system.
Problem 2: Your email address has changed or become defunct
Evidence: The message will never arrive in your inbox, or maybe you’ll get a delivery failure notice in your email (unlikely).
Solution: Check the email address in the form script to make sure it’s up-to-date. Better than using an address that directs to a specific person (email@example.com), use a generic address that can be checked by anyone in the company (firstname.lastname@example.org) and which won’t become defunct when Bob leaves the company.
Problem 3: Your spam filter is overzealous and intercepting good mail
Evidence: If your email spam filter is set to delete spam automatically, the message will never arrive in your inbox. If it first goes in a spam folder, you should find your message there.
Solution: Choose a unique keyword to be included in the subject line of emails sent from your contact form, such as the name of your business (this would be done in the code for the contact form itself or in the script) and also set an email filter in your mail programme so that anything with that keyword in the subject line is not labelled spam and will be allowed into the inbox.
Otherwise, it’s a matter of…
Problem 4: Your customer service is crap
Evidence: You’re getting messages and not bothering to respond.
Solution: Pull your socks up and quit losing business that’s coming to you!