To Buy Or Not To Buy: When “Quick And Simple” Is Just A Lie
Be careful about what you promise to deliver on your website, warns columnist Brian Massey. The bottom line: Don't promise something if it isn't true.
I’m fortunate to have traveled to London and Romania this Thanksgiving holiday. One of the things I love is theatre, and Shakespearean theatre in particular. London seems like the ultimate place to see Shakespeare because that’s where it was created.
London is to Shakespeare what Wisconsin is to cheese, what Philadelphia is to cheese steaks, and what Houston is to humidity.
So I was surprised that the Royal Shakespeare Company website wasn’t more accommodating to out-of-town Shakephiles like me.
A Broken Promise
First, they broke a promise. When I had selected my tickets (for “Henry V”!) and clicked checkout, I was given the opportunity to login or create an account.
I didn’t have an account, but they assured me that “Creating an account is quick and simple.”
As it turns out, this wasn’t really true. While I know the answers to most of these questions, this looks like quite a bit of work. Simple would be name and email address.
Furthermore, they put a “kill question” in there: “Date of Birth.” We know that this is a key piece of the information pie when someone wants to steal your identity.
This creates hesitation, concern. Someone looking to delay their purchase will consider easing their anxiety by visiting Facebook or something.
Fortunately, the folks at RSC give us an out, allowing us to check a box instead if we’re over 13. Yet I wonder if their conversion rate wouldn’t be higher if they used only the box.
They use the same when asking for a Postal Address. Again, this creates a moment of hesitation and subtle anxiety.
Don’t they need an address to process my credit card? Can I opt out if I want to charge the tickets?
Quick And Simple Is Not A Metric. It Is A Perception.
It’s not uncommon to craft “quick” and “easy” and “easy-to-use” into our value propositions. However, I think it often undersells our offering.
I wasn’t really interested in a quick and easy way to buy tickets. I was interested in being one of the club. I’ll be able to say “’Henry V’? Yes. I saw the Royal Shakespeare Company do it in London.”
I would sign up for information by email for “Lovers of the theatre and Shakespeare.” It wouldn’t have to be quick and simple.
Maybe I’ll unsubscribe, since I can’t pop across the pond to see a play in London. But many of those in London might come out.
In other words, sell the value before you overcome phantom objections.
Don’t Promise What You Can’t Deliver
Our perceptions of “Quick and Easy” are being shaped in large part by the mobile devices we carry with us. These little gadgets know enough about us to make many tasks one click away.
Uber and Lyft are one-click experiences that will move us and our friends from one place to another. You don’t have to enter a location. You don’t have to select a payment method.
The Royal Shakespeare Company website does have a one-click experience that is helpful.
The lesson here is not that you should work really hard to make your site a one-click wonder. My recommendation is simply that you not sell something you can’t deliver.
“Quick and simple” is only important in some situations. If you can’t deliver, sell some other value on your site.
There’s an old saying that goes, “If you have to say it, it probably isn’t true.” If your process is quick and simple, it will communicate that by its very nature. You really don’t have to say it.
Take The Money
It took me three tries and an aborted international call to buy a ticket.
After entering my credit card info, the error page didn’t give me much to go on. “Sorry, an unexpected error has occurred.” Shakespeare might quip, “As opposed to an expected error?” He might also say, “The tartness of this experience sours ripe grapes!”
I tried to call, but I got someone other than the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Ultimately, I was able to book tickets using my American Express card. It seems they couldn’t bill my Visa for some reason. If I weren’t such a fan of the theatre, I don’t know that I would have tried again.
Fortunately, my tickets were waiting there for me at Will Call. The actors were fantastic. Anything less and Shakespeare may have called the whole experience “a goodly apple rotten at the heart.”