One of the most important things for a website which hopes to provide good quality support is to be readily contactable and the best way of doing this has been to provide a support email address. Unfortunately, such addresses are easily harvested by spam robots, who's task is simply to trawl the internet looking for ‘naked’ or poorly concealed email addresses and adding them to the spammers lists.
Traditional tricks to combat this included replacing the ‘@’ with an ‘at', hiding the email address amongst meaningless HTML like t
There are however alternatives, enabling you to offer good customer service without opening yourselves up to massive spamming.
1. Use Live Support - A live support module is appreciated by users because they can get an answer right on the spot. If you can afford the staff to man it then it is well worth it for this reason alone. The anti-spam implications are also clear, as the robot needs it's own built in spammer to annoy the support staff, and while these do exist, they are practically unused because they simply don't offer a good return.
2. Use a lead in question before supplying an address. This is a simple tactic using good ASP or PHP programming which asks the user a simple question - such as who they want to contact or what they need help with and then follows up with either a mail form, a faq, a contact address or a combination of these things. When well programmed the spammer needs to make custom code in their robot to get past it - in other words it is more trouble than getting the email address manually.
3. Use an image - or better yet a series of images. Software that recognises images does exist and is used, but again it is nowhere near as prevalent as software that reads text and generally is more trouble than it is worth for a spammer.
4. Use a telephone number. One thing people like is actually knowing that a person is dealing with their enquiry. There is still no better way of doing this than offering telephone support. Toll free numbers are best, but even VoIP calling or a regular number will work as a means of contact.
Regardless of the method you use to offer your customer support, the most important thing to remember is that your customer wants a response and wants to know their problem is being worked on. It's possible to design a very elaborate system to stop spammers getting through to you, but if you stop your customers getting through to you then you've rather defeated the purpose.
With an estimated 70-90 billion spam messages sent every day, the problem is not going away. Don't wait for someone to solve the problem for you, visit The Stop Spam Now Site and review the very best methods of stopping spam.