Big business web sites – maybe they don’t want my business!

Big business web sites: WTF, people?

Just a little rant, and this time it’s nothing to do with security, well maybe a little.   One of the best ways to build trust on the internet is to have a brick and mortar location.

Trust Triumphs Over FearI was recently looking for some contact details for a large organisation and boy was it difficult.   The only way I could contact them was to fill in the form on their web site.   No phone number, no brick and mortar address, no P.O. Box.   Nothing. Oh, and I could connect with them on Facebook—that’s a big help.

The problem was that they were not the only one.   There are businesses all over the internet who use their website and social media sites as their sole point of contact with the outside world. These sites are a great way to build reputation and get clients.   But they shouldn’t be the only way people can contact you.

Maybe businesses fear that if they give out these details, they will be besieged by in-person visits from pushy job hunters or flooded with phone calls from salespeople. But by dodging all real-world interactions, they miss out on a lot of opportunities—like a great job candidate stopping by to drop off a résumé, or a potential client with a question they want answered in real time. It makes a business look either small or insincere if they do not have some sort of terrestrial contact details.

Even on LinkedIn, there are a number of people, about 15%, who do not have any of those physical business components.   I like doing business with my LinkedIn people.   That is why I use the site in the first place.   It gets a lot harder to communicate with a person when I can only contact them through email.   In today’s business world most people are too busy to read email anyway—let alone check their LinkedIn inbox.   If I cannot contact them through other means—phone and snail mail—then I will use someone else.

So why the rant?

In an era when businesses are so obsessed with their public image, I find this oversight fascinating. Having a brick and mortar address or PO Box builds trust with your clients or potential clients.   Sure, everything is mobile and digital now. But online communication is supposed to be a complement to real-world interaction, not a substitute for it. To conceal your number and physical address is just plain stupid.

Roger Smith, is an educator. Teaching students at ADFA (UNSW) and showing them how vulnerable they are to cybercrime.

He is also CEO at R & I ICT Consulting Services Pty Ltd, an Amazon #1 author on Cybercrime and founder of the SME Security Framework. He is a Consultant who specialises in inexpensive and highly effective security strategies for small and medium businesses and not for profit organisations.

He has developed and authored the SME Security Framework and the Security Policy Training Course which are considered to be the definitive guides to helping SME's protect their organisation using the principles of Technology, Management, Adaptability and Compliance.