Forms & Associated Behavior

Written By: Subir

I tested a form the first time in 2001. 

That was before the days of A/B testing and conversion optimization techniques. 

And every person I showed a form to – had a reaction. Some straightened up, others shrank back. 

I could sense the change but was too inexperienced to understand it. 

I would blithely ask questions about form fields and their order. Whether a date field should also have a calendar and where the error message should display. 

On launching the form, form completion would still be abysmal.

Then two pivotal moments happened. 

First, I read this excellent book on forms. 

I learned the right order of fields, defaults, and error handling. 

Setting up the right layout, form fields along with good error handling will help prevent abandonment. But only for those who actually choose to start filling out the form. 

So, in my user testing, I began to ask two questions.

  1. Would you fill this form out in real life?
  2. If not, how else would you get in touch?

And here is what I learned.

Mindset: Forms = Internet's black holes

A form filled out in excruciating detail. 

Submitted. 

Then nothing. 

Or worse. 

An automated email giving one hope, followed by soul-crushing silence. 

This is the strongest perception against online forms. 

Most have, and continue to, exhibit this behavior.

SOLUTION

  1. Humanize: Show members of your customer service team – even a partial list of names (and faces) will do. This is the best solution.
  2. Human Response: State a personal response guarantee. An actual human will get back to them
  3. Provide Alternate Options: If you have a community forum, highlight it’s availability. 

Mindset: Tortoise vs Hare

A web form will be the fastest way to get a response – said no user ever. 

Most people feel the form response will be slower than calling and email. 

Most forms fail at conveying the speed of response.

Most forms don’t have a timeline for response stated at all. 

Others tell you 1-2 business days.

Companies that emphasize speed, grow faster and retain customers longer.

Convertkit/Aweber – videofruit – response within 25 minutes

It’s Thursday afternoon. 

You want to find a solution by the weekend. 

I’ve talked to people in bank branches or local offices who came in at great inconvenience on a late weekday because they couldn’t wait.  These are good scenarios. 

But I’ve heard far more stories where Company B won over  Company A because they responded faster. 

In an era, where instant gratification is the norm, speed matters.

SOLUTION

  1. Response Time: Specify a response  time – provide a range as an alternate
  2. If  you have many tiers, specify who gets a response when

Email Spam, Sales Calls

All contact us forms ask for personally identifiable information – DUH. 

This is kryptonite to the people who are not sure that your product/service will make the final shortlist. 

They don’t want to get bombarded with phone calls and emails. 

Yes phone calls, even if you don’t ask for it. As salespeople find a way to get the phone number. 

This is the primary reason why execs, business pros do not fill out forms. 

Look at the information required for the typical ‘Free Report’.  

And this is why people ask for Live Chat and phone numbers. So they can maintain their distance while getting fast answers.

SOLUTION

  1. Provide information on how you will  (and will not) use their information – eg. we will not add you to a  promotional list
  2. Making getting onto a mailing list optional – or at least easy to do so.
  3. If you are going to spam them – do so in a one-to-one manner rather than an email blast (no matter how ‘personalized’ you make it)

TAKEAWAYS

  1. Address the ‘Black Hole’ Mindset
  2. Humanize:  Show members of your customer service team – even a partial list of names (and faces) will do. This is the best solution.
  3. Human Response: State a personal response guarantee. An actual human will get  back to them
  4. Provide Alternate Options: If you have a community forum, highlight it’s availability. 
  5. Provide a Response Time-Frame
  6. Specify a response time – provide a range as an alternate
  7. If you have several tiers, specify who gets a response when
  8. Overcome Privacy/Spam fears
  9. Provide information on how you will (and will not) use their information 
  10. Making getting onto a mailing list optional – or at least easy to get off any list.

From strategies to tear-downs, I’m sharing everything 
I know about high-conversion experiences

to help you attract and retain your best customers

About the author

About the author

Subir Kumedan founded UX for All to help teams of all sizes and shapes avoid the heartache that comes with creating winning customer experiences. He likes to simplify and streamline everything.

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