Why Big Companies Hide Contact Information on Their Web Sites
A few years ago, I was getting ready to sell a house. My existing mortgage company had been purchased by another company and my account had been transferred. However, when it was transferred, the permissions that allow customer service representatives to do basic, but important, tasks like provide a payoff amount, were not available to them.
Comcast's "customer central" has everything you need...except contact information.
Thus began a nearly 20-day struggle to do nothing more than get a dollar amount that was owed to them so they could be paid off. You'd think they might actually want that.
As I navigated the maze of departments, I found out that one small part of the company had the ability to change the permissions on my account and free me from this labyrinth of hell. Unfortunately, the people in that department had no phones. That's right, they were cut off. I wasn't sure if they were some secret covert agency operating within the confines of a home loan organization or if this company was just idiotic. Finally, I found a customer service rep who had a friend who worked in that department. That is how the issue was resolved: I know a guy.
After reading about Steve Jansen's recent bout with Comcast, I thought back to that event and realized, for some big companies, giving customers access to them is something they don't really want.
I've been in the web design and development business since the late '90s and one thing that has not changed for the vast majority of commercial businesses is that contact information needs to be easy to find on a company website. This is a basic premise for any business, online or off. If your customers can't reach you, it will make it tough for them to patronize your business.
But that rule doesn't apply to large corporations, particularly those with thousands if not millions of customers. For them, they make their customers jump through hoop after hoop on a website to find a phone number and many don't list them at all.
On the websites for Comcast and AT&T, two of the biggest cable providers in the country, it is nearly impossible to find a phone number. Visitors have to click through a series of links and are prompted to answer questions in hopes they might solve the problem themselves. Frequently asked questions are offered up in lieu of phone numbers and emails.