Over the past several weeks I have noticed more and more the empty hole my requests have fallen into.

We all see the tab at the top of web sites home pages “contact” and many of us use them frequently to make initial outreach, ask a question or provide a comment. I am one of those people.

What has struck me of late is the lack of “contact” that results. It seems that in many cases no one monitors the contacts. My interaction seems to fall into a black hole or gets caught in bureaucratic process that either eliminates my missive as unimportant and irrelevant or lands on the screen of some disinterested employee who fails to respond.

One sure way to sabotage the all-important user experience is neglect. If you are going to have a “contact” form on your website, it needs to be treated the same as an incoming telephone call. Inbound communications of any form – email, telephone call, or “contact” via the website must be answered as soon as possible and no later than one or two hours afterwards.

It matters not whether the incoming is a current client or a prospect. It is of paramount importance that they get an expedited response.

Did you ever reach out to shake someone’s hand and your hand is left hanging in the air? That is what non-responsiveness feels like. Don’t be guilty of that.

I would suggest that you test the responsiveness of your employees by using the “contact” form. Don’t use your regular email or phone number. If you have to, recruit a friend or colleague at another company to see what their experience is like.

If you do so a few times you will get the picture. If the process is broken fix it.

Don’t let your “contacts” fall into the black hole. It is not respectful, and it is definitely not good for business.

You built the website to put an attractive and professional face on your company. If people do land there and like what they see, they may want to start a dialog either for general information, product or service details or some other query. If you have a showroom or retail establishment (the equivalent of your website) do you ignore them and just let them leave without asking if you can help them? Neglecting visitors costs you business and breaks an opportunity to engage with someone who could very well become part of your referral wheel.

Would you put a closed sign on your front door in the middle of regular hours, or take the phone off the hook? Of course not. You need to consider your online “contact” the same way. No excuses.

The author, Greg Demetriou is the CEO of Lorraine Gregory Communications, the founder of GregsCornerOffice.com and the host of the Ask A CEO video and podcast show. He can be reached at greg@lgcli.com.