Touchpoint Reputation in B2B SaaS

Like humans, customer touchpoints also have a reputation.

Rand Fishkin recently posted the following tweet:

Source: Rand Fishkin

I think the conversation sparked by his thread speaks to the existence of a invisible but important quality of contact forms on B2B websites.

A contact form, a contact telephone, a contact email etc are merely different ways by which a website visitor can establish initial contact with a company they intend to do business with. Collectively, NNgr0up refers to them as touchpoints that are part of a customer's journey.  

I'm writing this short piece because the Twitter thread generated an interesting thought in my head–it seems that touchpoints have a reputation which shapes peoples behavior.

Depending on how a touchpoint's reputation is perceived, visitors might decide to either use it or seek out an alternative to accomplish the task at hand.

For instance, if a contact form:

  • is asking for too much info (i.e. it will take too much time to complete), or;
  • is a bag of uncertainty–it offers no hint as to when you’ll hear back from the business (i.e. no reassuring note like "we typically respond within 24-48 hrs");

a visitor is likely to abort the task at hand or seek out alternative touchpoints known to deliver fast answers.

Another angle worth considering is past experience—if visitors have taken the pains to fill long contact forms and not hear back for weeks, this negative experience will add up and ultimately turn visitors away from bothering with such forms altogether.

They'd rather seek out alternative touchpoints such as the telephone, email or LinkedIn messages (mentioned in Rand's tweet) which are known to have a reputation of being manned by an actual human, ensuring that they can get a response faster.

John Xie mentioned Taskade’s counterexample of having good contact form usage by site visitors:

Source: John Xie

I think there are two possible explanations at play here:

  • they kept the Typeform-based contact form on their pricing page simple;
  • Typeform-based contact forms in general tend to enjoy a good reputation amongst netizens;

For #1, the contact form has 4 mandatory questions and 1 optional question so the form should only take about a minute complete.

For #2, businesses that care about providing a smooth form experience often use Typeform over bland competitors, so I'm guessing that when visitors see that a Typeform-like experience is available, they are much more likely to put up with it because it feels different:

Source: Dan Cave

Perhaps there is a direct correlation between businesses that use Typeform-based contact forms and businesses that close the feedback loop quickly when they receive enquiries from website visitors?

(PS: I hope to someday follow-up this post with a substantive look at the evolution of email as a touchpoint. There was a period when inboxes got overran by unsolicited email, before spam filters got good enough to combat the problem.)

Additional Reading

This article: After self-hosting my email for twenty-three years I have thrown in the towel via HN on September 5, 2022 had an interesting discussion that touched on a number of concepts, all related to reputation:

  • IP reputation can make or break email deliverability: 5 Ways to Check Your Sending Reputation;
  • IP range reputation is now being used as a substitute for IP reputation amongst signals for combating spam since (temporary) blockage of an entire IP block (or range) can be effective against spam. This makes sense since if you are on shared infrastructure where there are no anti-spam policies in place, or where neighboring IPs repeatedly get pwned to send out spam, the only way to get your provider's attention is to drop all traffic originating from their IP range–since your provider is unaware or does not care enough to put checks in place.