How not to have a web presence

So I’m after some woodchips to use as mulch, and I was very happy to find this great offer on the Dorshak tree service web site:

Dorshak Tree service is offering free woodchips to anyone interested. No hidden costs, no catch. Woodchips can be used for many different things including landscaping around your home, flower gardens, areas you would like to keep weeds to a minimum and many other uses.

The woodchips come from our daily tree removals and may contain various different species of trees. We do not distribute pine (unless requested) or diseased material. We will deliver to you a full truck load which may contain from 15-20 yards of chips. We do not deliver specific amounts and what you will receive will be within these totals.

I fill out the form they provide, and off goes my request. I’m wondering if I’ll get a response because last year when I was thinking about having someone take a tree down I filled out their quote request form, and after the obligatory ‘We got your message, and we value your message, and we will respond to your message Real Soon Now” kind of email I never heard from them. After a few days, I make a mental note to give them a call, and of course forget.

Yesterday I took a moment to look through my spam folder and happened across this message from Dorshak:

Thank you for your woodchip request through Dorshak Tree Specialists.
From tree removals to stump grinding and plant health care, Dorshak Tree Specialists can take care of all your tree care needs.
A delivery of woodchips will arrive to you shortly if you need more information please call one of the numbers below.

Uh oh! I was headed out of town (As I write this I’m on a train to Cleveland) and not going to be back for a few days. I suddenly had this vision of my poor wife coming home from a day with the girls and finding 20 yards of mulch in the driveway. I call Dorshak to find out if they can at least tell me when to expect my bounty of chips. Brad, the first guy on the phone, gets my name but doesn’t really know anything about chip deliveries, so he puts me on hold to check with someone. Someone else picks up. The next guy, who’s name I missed, explains that due to customer complaints they really didn’t do residential deliveries anymore. He explains this in a voice that makes it clear the policy has been changed for a long time, and I’m one of the infrequent folks who uses the web form.

Now I haven’t yet had the pleasure of doing business with the Dorshak Tree service, so they may be phenomenal with trees.

However, as a web presence they are similar to far too many other companies who get a nice site put up, implement some features to respond to customers, and then fail to follow up on the implementation. I’m sure they got busy, had enough business where they could just accept the customers who are willing to call and ignore the rest. It might never be a problem. Or, a big recession happens, and then every customer is dear…except those that were alienated during the boom times.

It happens, and it always will happen, but it should happen because of things that are hard to fix. Text on a website is NOT hard to fix. I’m sitting on a train right now, and there’s maybe 15 people in this car. I bet if I got up and asked if anyone did website work I’d get 3 or 4 takers. Heck, I’d fix it for a load of chips. Or two.

Fix your web site and stop annoying people who might otherwise be your customer someday.

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