Fifth Wall Fridays: Online Ticketing & Confirmation Friendliness

Twice a month I offer expansions on the themes and topics that Michelle Paul and I wrote about in our book, Breaking the Fifth Wall: Rethinking Arts Marketing for the 21st Century. If you like these, you can buy the book from us here, or on Amazon’s Kindle or Barnes & Nobles’Nook.

In Chapter 9, we suggest that the online ticketing experience is actually the beginning of the cultural event, and perhaps the most important interactive experience your patron will have with your organization.

One aspect of ticketing that nobody talks about is the language used during the ticket-buying process and in the confirmation e-mail after the ticket has been purchased. Isn’t it true that if a customer were standing at your box office, you’d want the agent selling the ticket to be friendly and helpful? When I’m buying arts tickets, that idea doesn’t always seem to translate. In particular, when I receive the ticket confirmation e-mail, it’s almost always filled with unfriendly, negative, and legalistic language:

“No returns, no exchanges are permitted. You may not resell this ticket. You must have your membership number ready when you call.”

We’ve all read things like this. For that matter, why does it seem the bigger the institution, the meaner the language?

I realize you have to communicate policies that may not be all that customer-friendly, but can’t we be a bit nicer? How about saying the same thing only in a more friendly tone? Something like:

“We’re sorry that we can’t allow you to refund tickets or exchange them. But if you can’t use your ticket, we’ll gladly take it back and convert it into a tax-deductible donation which will help our organization. If you have other questions, please call our box office — it would greatly help us if you have your ticket stub available when you call.”

Take a look at your online ticketing confirmation e-mail with fresh eyes and see if you think it represents your organization in the very best way.

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