I’m used to answering 27 e-mails per day. Most of them come in the morning. Some of them are from estranged relatives asking to sleep on my floor, insisting the reason we haven’t spoken in years was due to their busy work schedule and not my bedside manner. The rest are about work.
Happy customers, future customers, angry customers, infuriated customers, vendors, manufacturers, sales reps, ingredient suppliers, bill collectors, tax auditors, lawyers, food scientists and especially collection agents like to send an e-mail if there’s something they need to speak to me about.
When I was a young man I used to try answer e-mails with religious zeal. I’d happily spend my afternoon hovered around my monitor with sniper-like focus waiting to hone in on the next message to mosey on through that inbox.
And then BAM! LIGHTS OUT! There was an answer. Almost as soon as the bloke was done typing it.
84.5% of the time I’d get a response out in 613 seconds. 11 minutes was the deadline I set for myself to respond to anyone with questions. I figured if I had no money, no advertising budget and no sales I could at least have the satisfaction of wowing anyone who had a question by getting back to them with an OCD-like fervor that’d leave my competitors in the dust. If people didn’t know about my product, at least they’d know about my words and how zippy I was in getting them out.
Most of the messages I got came through this:
That’s a contact form. You fill it out and I get this in my inbox:
Since March 28, 2012 Contact Form has been very reliable in telling me what I need to know. In fact, he never let me down. If there was anything anyone had to say he let me know about it. I talked to Contact Form more than I spoke to anyone else. My Ex swears by it.
However, now that I’m older and passing my prime I’m more sanguine about how I respond to Contact Form. Our relationship has changed. He still occupies an important part in my life, but too much time with Contact Form can sap the creativity out of your personality and deter attention from other important endeavors.
Remembering to send Mom a birthday card.
Answering the phone.
………….oh wait, I still suck at that….never mind.
But as the years go by, I’ve built a little bit of a moat between me and Contact Form. We’re still in each others ear, but with just a *little* more distance than before. I give myself 24 hours instead of 11 minutes. Sometimes I even give other people the Go Ahead to talk to Contact Form in my place.
You can only be in so many places at once.
And for the last 184 days this growing divide was always met with tranquility. No angry customers. No mass influx of refund requests. No hater comments on our product pages. No attacks from rabid possums. No arsenic laced in my Shirley Temple when I went clubbing. NO INTERGALACTIC UFO’S WITH MUTANT GECKO’S IN LEISURE SUITS COMING OUT TO ZAP MY MANUFACTURING FACILITY INTO DUST!
It was all pretty tame.
But as it turns out Contact Form was just luring me in, hoping I’d take the bait before he got his revenge.
“There you go little girl. Go on….I won’t do you no harm. Coochy coochy coo.”
And then SNAP!
Contact Form Giveth, and Contact Form Taketh Away
Things got so good that after a while I began to think about the last time I had to write a stressful email from someone on our website. I couldn’t.
Then I tried to remember the last time I had to write an exuberant email from someone who liked our product. I couldn’t.
Then I just tried to remember the last time I had to write an email through Contact Form……and I couldn’t.
Then, in a moment of panic, I decided to verify the latter thought and figure exa-tactly when I had last whispered in Contact Form’s ear.
………….. Dec. 21, 2014.
With my brain falling into my small intestine, I decided to login to the dashboard for my away form software.
HOW COULD I POSSIBLY NOT BE RECEIVING MY CONTACT FORM MESSAGES?!?
And then there was this:
Folks, this hit like a golf club to the tonsils.
I have a personal email address that reads jonathan bechtel @ , and a work email that reads jonathan@ health kismet ….., but I do NOT have one that’s combined like that.
My feeble little mind has no clue how that email address got there. Just looking at it now it feels like a bad haircut. It’s now fixed, but friends, the damage has been done.
The Moral of the Story
Our contact form has been a digital paperweight in the lower right hand corner of our website since the end of 2014.
If you wrote a message and we didn’t respond don’t take it personally. Feel free to ask again, we’ll get back to you sooner this time. Promise.
Yikes! Won’t happen again.
And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.