December 18, 2017

How Much Profit Is A Poor Online Experience Costing An Offline Service?

Several weeks ago I took my son a theme park at which we held season passes.   So the night before, I decided to purchase some “extras” online before arriving so that we could get right to fun upon arrival.   As much I tried to make these purchases ahead of time, the site proved far too confusing to complete an online transaction.

So here’s what happened.

  1. First of all, I logged into my online account that I already had, and for some reason, I was not seeing the discounts that season pass-holders should get.  As I looked through my account, I realized my annual passes were not registered to my online account.   How could that be?  I purchased the annual passes through my online account, so how could it not have my pass already registered?   In the end, after of many minutes of frustration, I finally found a place to where I could enter a long and almost unreadable number from my annual pass to register my annual pass with my online account where I had purchased the annual pass.
  2. Next, the theme park actually has two sections (main theme park and a water park).  I had purchased annual passes for both parks, so I assumed that I could purchase the “extras” for both parks via that one online account.  Wrong again!   As I desperately searched for the “extras” to the water park, I discovered those extras could only be found on a website for the water park, and not via the main theme park.   So I went to that water park website where I tried to login using my online account, and ….., it wouldn’t login.  It appears that I had to create another account on that website to make online purchases.   At that point, I finally gave up in frustration and decided not to purchase any extras at that time.

So my question for this theme park, and for you, is, even if you are an offline service, what is your poor online purchase experience costing you?  Without thinking about it, I would automatically want to say this organization must invest in creating a much improved online experience.  But should they?   Is it actually costing them, in revenue, brand reputation, etc?

If I were in their position, I would want to ask and answer the following questions.

  • What percentage of people who fail to buy extras online, never purchase these extras upon arrival?  Or purchase fewer extras onsite?   Can I track these attempts and connect them to onsite purchases (for a season pass-holder, I think yes)?
  • How much does our poor online experience impact our brand reputation?   Does it keep people from coming to our park or keep season pass-holders from renewing annual passes?  Does it impact our online reviews?
  • How can we test the impact of improvements before we make them?   Can we do this via small incremental investments?   If large investments are required (in this case I think the park needs to make some major integration investments), how can I measure this?  Through customer interviews, customer surveys?  By answering some of the above questions?

While there are other questions we could ask, the main thing is that this park, and your company, need to consider these possibilities and then put metrics in place to determine how improving the online experience will benefit the organization.

BTW – my son and I had an amazing two days at this theme park, in spite of the of the poor online experience.  Would I have purchased more extras than I did?   Probably



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