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  1. #1
    A Real *and* Darn Cool Member! lstolze's Avatar
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    Post Giving phone numbers out to customers...?
    Just wondering how many of you actually provide a phone number on your sites for customers to contact you, and also:

    a) What service do you use for your 'work' number?

    b) Do you feel that this is something that is necessary in general, or only when you reach a certain level of success with your sites? What do you consider that level of success to be?

    c) Along this same vein, how much personal info do you give on your sites, or do you only use P.O. Boxes, virtual phone numbers, etc.?

    Currently I only offer email addresses, and always make sure to respond to customers immediately if they email me. However, I wonder if I should use at least a virtual phone number, for customers and for my affiliate programs in general. Every now and then I get an affiliate related call with my screaming toddler in the background since I am caught off guard. My goal is to strive for a more professional environment, so at least if I check my voicemail a couple times a day, I can call them on my own time with a nice quiet background!
    ~Lisa - Brilliant Mastermind, or Nut? You decide!

  2. #2
    Internet Cowboy
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    I don't know about everyone else, but I got in to affiliate marketing to get away from telephones.
    I provide an e-mail address and if they probe a little they can find my PO Box. That's enough for any customer concerns.
    If you are partnered with a good enough merchant, they will take care of 90% of all customer concerns.


  3. #3
    notary sojac Herb ԿԬ's Avatar
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    I provide the very basic PO Box and email addy on the privacy page at each site.

    I do have two [~industry]directory sites for which I'm considering a (cheapest) 800-number some day but not until I have unlimited outgoing long distance service so it works both ways. And that only because there are many who just feel they have to talk instead of email.

  4. #4
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    I use a PO Box, free efax, and free evoice. All of those (plus a hostmaster@ email address) are listed on the whois for all my domains. I seldom respond to anything that comes through these methods, as it's typically solicitations that I'm not interested in.

    My contact pages have email addresses (hidden from spam harvesting bots via Javascript). I prefer email as a contact, as I don't work very regular hours. Email also lets me just ignore those people I don't want to bother with.

    I also have a business line, which all my merchants and the networks have.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey
    I use a PO Box, free efax, and free evoice.
    What service do you use? I might be looking at a evoice service.

  6. #6
    A Real *and* Darn Cool Member! lstolze's Avatar
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    I just signed up for a K7.net number. My hubby has used that service before. Can't beat FREE!
    ~Lisa - Brilliant Mastermind, or Nut? You decide!

  7. #7
    ABW Ambassador AddHandler's Avatar
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    I only have a website contact form...
    I have gotten a lot of e-mails asking about products and such...
    I answer the best I can and send them to the merchant..
    I have made a lot of sales through this method.. since I use a lot of the stuff I sell..
    I can give pretty good advice on what they need.. and it helps to give them a couple of urls in the reply e-mail to the merchant that sells the products they are asking about..

    Never a Phone Number Though.. I don't want them CALLING ME...

  8. #8
    MasterMike HardwareGeek's Avatar
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    I got a free voicemail from evoice.com and a free efax number. For my evoice message i tell the person to leave a message and their email address.

  9. #9
    Affiliate Miester my2cents's Avatar
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    there is no reason to list your phone number unless your a merchant... the whole idea behind affiliate marketing is to not be tied down...

    If you list your phone number all you will is scammers and those too lazy to dig arouond to find what they are looking for... I call those folks "lazy tire kickers"

    I took my toll-free phone number and email address off of my sites with no loss if income and a lot less head aches....

    After all I an affiliate not the merchant, I have no control over inventory or customer service...

    Joe
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    that's my2cents, 'cuz I'm a legend in my own mind....

  10. #10
    A Real *and* Darn Cool Member! lstolze's Avatar
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    Good point Joe. I really like the idea of these virtual numbers for contact from merchants though. At least in my case, I think it will look more professional than having a screaming wee one when I get a call to talk about XYZ with an AM. It does happen - and always at the worst times! And I certainly don't want to be bombarded with calls because someone bought something from Merchant A that they don't like, etc. No patience for that!!
    Last edited by lstolze; May 6th, 2005 at 05:21 PM. Reason: Typos, typos, and more tpos (heh)
    ~Lisa - Brilliant Mastermind, or Nut? You decide!

  11. #11
    Affiliate Miester my2cents's Avatar
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    Hey herb... quality toll free service can be had for 2.5 - 4.5 CPM depending where you live

    I have 10 local merchants on the plans I offer, some for more then 5 years with no complaints.

    Some are personal friends... (meaning, they have my unlisted home phone number)

    Joe
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    that's my2cents, 'cuz I'm a legend in my own mind....

  12. #12
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Here's the link to a free eVoice.com voice mail number:

    http://www.evoice.com/evoice/twa/signupFree

    Here's the link to a free eFax.com fax number:

    https://www.efax.com/en/efax/twa/signupFree

    Both email you digital copies of your voice mail or fax. I've used eFax.com for several years and just discovered eVoice.com about a month ago.

    You'll get a few ads, but that's the only catch.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  13. #13
    Chick with Brains Tracy's Avatar
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    Wow! I have my cell phone number on my website, as well as email address. Most people contact me through the email address, but every so often I receive a call. Maybe 2 or 3 a month. They have usually resulted in a definite sale, so I don't have a problem with it.

  14. #14
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    So far, I've received (and thus avoided) seven calls on the voice mail number, which is only used in my whois information. Four were hangups. One was from an ad network that I don't want to work with. Two were from an affiliate manager that I don't want to work with at this time.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  15. #15
    MasterMike HardwareGeek's Avatar
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    the mac version of efax doesn't have ads :-P

  16. #16
    Affiliate Manager
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    I definitely have my phone number on my contact page, including a toll-free line for domestic calls. Even with the tech support I do, I rarely pay more than $100 for the toll-free service. But it pays big dividends in the message is sends to prospects in letting them know I'm serious about providing good service.

    As a customer, few things turn me off more than a vendor who posts no phone number at all. I'm old enough to remember life before the Internet, and you can't run a brick-and-mortar without a phone so why would anyone expect to run online without a phone? To me it says "I'm hiding from my customers. I want them to give me their money but I won't even let them talk to me."

    I know a lot of companies don't list their phone number, even some big ones. But I figure if I can differentiate myself by being more reachable and accountable to my customers in the long run I'll have more of them.
    Richard Gaskin
    Developer of WebMerge: Publish any data feed on any site
    http://www.fourthworld.com

  17. #17
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    That's the difference between being a vendor and being an affiliate or even just a content provider. A vendor needs it for credibility. Affiliates don't.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  18. #18
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    That's the difference between being a vendor and being an affiliate or even just a content provider. A vendor needs it for credibility. Affiliates don't.~Michael Coley
    I agree.

    I would never list a phone number on an affiliate site! Not only do I NOT do customer service for the 10% share, but like My2Cents said, I have no control over inventory or the merchant's service (nor can I offer refunds or exchanges), so I couldn't do anything of note even if I wanted to!

    As for merchants wanting to contact me, they can email me for the number, although I won't enter into any substantive agreements without a written deal.

    Benefits of emails include the fact that I get to see how they write! I like to know if I'm dealing with some ignoramus, or some merchant who suddenly clams up when it comes time to put the important things into print. It's a big red flag when a merchant doesn't want any written records of their words left behind!

    As for less-important things--things that wouldn't be considered "contractual"--I still like to use emails because then I don't have to try to remember later, just what it was that they said. Was that hot seller Widget A, or Widget AA?? And, I can take the time to remember what *I* want to say! When I use the phone I usually hang up and THEN remember 10 more things I wanted to ask about.

    I know a lot of companies don't list their phone number, even some big ones.~Richard Gaskin
    I've decided to go onto the merchant side for a certain product line, and I gave the issue of customer contact a lot of consideration. It was one of the hardest things to come up with an answer to!
    I think having a number does increase a merchant's credibility. And, as the one getting the 90%, I'll be stuck with the customer service, unless I find a way to pawn it off on some other place without breaking my bank account.

    I don't like customer service, but I can fake it.
    My biggest hitch is what Michael Coley said--I don't do regular hours. And I don't think customers would appreciate seeing a disclaimer that said something like:

    "The customer service hotline is usually open from 9PM until about dawn. But sometimes it's open from 6AM till 5PM. Or maybe it'll open at 3AM, and stay open till 7PM. And then there's days it'll be open for 24 hours. But if that happens, it'll be closed for the next 24 while the customer-service person makes up for the lost sleep.

    These changes are utterly unpredictable and happen without notice. Even the owner doesn't know when she'll be awake until she wakes up for the day(night/evening/afternoon/morning/whatever). But you can try to reach her at 1-800-WHATEVER, if you're feeling lucky."

    So I'm going to join those numberless places, at least until I can hire a good help desk company.
    There is no knowledge that is not power. ~Hemingway

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