Get No Respect!
(Apologies to Rodney Dangerfield)
by Mike Banks Valentine
Is there any doubt that ecommerce and a presence on the web has
become de rigueur for every business, large or small?
I submit that there is no longer any doubt that clients and customers
expect that every legitimate business must have, at the very least,
a "business-card" web site listing contact information, business
location and a simple "about us" page, along with a contact email
link or web form.
I don't think anyone can argue any longer that only certain types
of businesses belong on the web. Only two years ago, it was still
being actively debated whether that were true. No longer can the
burger joint be without a menu and operating hours posted online.
No longer does any corporation believe it needn't have an intranet
for suppliers and employees.
No longer can even the self-employed claim they can't benefit from
a place to post their resume. Even families have sites to keep the
relatives and friends informed and stay in touch.
Now many will claim that their web presence does little toward helping
them to profit in their business. That is an entirely different
issue and I'll go even further and call profit irrelevant to having
a web site. Just as profit is unrelated to whether that business
has a phone, fax machine, computer, desks, chairs and indoor plumbing.
Those are expected, no, required, to a business in order to operate
AS a business.
So too is the web presence, a domain name, email address and an
employee (even if that's you) to handle and respond to email, answer
the phone, empty the trash and clean the bathroom. Your business
is expected to have a web presence, period. End of discussion.
Now to responsibilities related to that web presence. I've been
discussing building a site for an attorney friend for two years.
She hates email and doesn't want to be responsible for answering
it or dealing with anyone electronically. Her legal secretary uses
the web daily to research and communicate with clients but knows
not to discuss that with the attorney and has told me in confidence
that her boss despises email and will have nothing to do with the
web. I may as well give it up.
I'm going to suggest that this kind of phobia will need to come
to an end for all those who expect to get on in the wired world.
Get over it, get a web site and answer your email! Grow up! You
needn't carry a web-enabled personal digital assistant cell phone
(yet) to maintain your appointment calendar and can still scribble
notes on scraps of paper if you like. You needn't do your business
banking online or own a Blackberry wireless but get a web site and
answer your email!
I'm unwilling to leave it there. Now let us address those who have
web sites and ignore them by allowing old outdated stuff to remain
online when it takes only seconds to change it. How about those,
such as my favorite newspaper, who post email addresses at the end
of every story written by staff reporters to enable readers to contact
them and then routinely ignore, and let go unanswered, reader email
comments. Not so much as an autoresponder suggesting they can't
respond to all emails!
Shall we consider things such as corporations soliciting email applications
from job seekers - Then not responding to let those potential employees
know the resume, application and cover letter were received? Shall
they expect to hear back from that HR department by email or snail
mail? Fagetaboutit. Not gonna happen.
There seems to be a universal disdain and/or fear of emailed communication.
I wrote last week of a lack of response from my senator and congressman
to email queries to their offices about bills being considered related
to privacy and cc'd the president on the note. I'll allow small
credit for those autoresponder generated messages sent within seconds
back to my emailbox. But this week I saw a story in the San Francisco
Chronicle that suggested "Lawmakers Lament Lack of Letters From
The reporter, Washington correspondent Carl Nolte, even wrote, "Feinstein,
for one, has encouraged constituents to send email, since her regular
mail has been cut off." Sheesh! This after I got back my note from
her last week stating, "Currently I°ve received approximately 30,000
letters and emails which, because of the closure of the Senate office
buildings, my staff and I have been unable to open and process."
Today the autoresponder failed to return that same (or any) response.
What does that mean? I emailed a response to that reporter and don't
expect an answer. They just don't respond (or autorespond).
Feinsteins office has gone back to the normal position of ignoring
email. It is time to take a serious look at whether we will accept
email as legitimate and deserving of responses, or if it will remain
entirely the realm of spammers, scammers and hoax-spreading-urban-myth-generating-pass-this-on-silly
blathering goofiness. We should just disable the "Forward" function
of email and rid ourselves of those annoyances.
I suggest that either email deserves legitimacy, respect and ANSWERS,
or that we abandon it entirely.
Mike Valentine does Search Engine Placement for the Small Business
WebSite101 "Reading List" Weekly Netrepreneur Tip Sheet Weekly Ezine
emphasizing small business on the Internet http://website101.com/arch/
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