Don't frustrate your customers into leaving before they pay you

A really irritating experience with an online retailer today inspired this quick post – here are a few things that happened when I tried to check out, and what you can do to avoid these problems with your own online checkout process.

The organization used an outside vendor to sell tickets to an event.

That’s not necessarily a problem – but it’s important to check out (no pun intended) your offsite vendor thoroughly to make sure of their process and that it provides a good experience for your users. For example:

  1. Allowing users to buy tickets by clicking a seating chart is great – you get to choose exactly where you want to sit. But not showing the actual prices until after you’ve selected seats and gone to the next screen, now that is incredibly frustrating. It would be easy to color-code (or put a border around) the different price levels of seats, so that when you make a choice, you immediately know how much that seat will cost. This vendor did not do that, and that’s something the organization should have caught.
  2. Seating charts! The above frustration could also have been alleviated by showing or linking to a color-coded seating chart, just a simple graphic. An easy fix.
  3. Let people manage the stuff in their cart. This vendor did not allow me to remove items from my cart. So if I guessed at a pair of seats, and it turned out they were more than I wanted to spend, there was no way to remove those tickets: I had to close the window and start over. If I had not really wanted to go to this event, I would have given up after the first time this happened. Allowing people to remove items from a shopping cart, then continue their checkout process by making another selection, is a 100% necessary feature.

The organization’s website was not fully functional.

I couldn’t find a seating chart anywhere on their site. And when I tried to click a main menu button to view some specific info about what they were offering, the page was missing. This makes the organization look bad, or at least like they don’t care about their visitors.

The moral of the story – test-drive your own online checkout process. If something is frustrating to you, it’s likely to be much more so to your customers!