Let Me Down Easy

Doctors make you do it the most. But Disney has perfected the concept. Waiting. It is both a science and an art form. How do you keep your customer interested and allow them to leave with a good experience even when they are probably going to finish the engagement disappointed?


Ticketek faced this dilemma today.

Global pop superstar Prince announced tickets for an incredibly limited number of shows in Melbourne and Sydney last Friday. The catch? The eight shows begin in a week.

The commodity was limited. The demand was through the roof. And you can count the opportunities for engagement on one hand. Interested audience members either went to the Arts Centre in person this morning or prayed to the internet gods that they managed to refresh their web browser at the right time to gain access to the booking platform.

Those who chase down the tickets in person are surrounded by a large contingent of people going through the same experience. They will either be celebrating with successful ticket purchasers or commiserating with other die-hard fans who didn’t get out of bed early enough. And whichever group they ended up in, they received a personal interaction from a ticketing representative saying ‘Congratulations’ or ‘I’m Sorry’. But the experience isn’t quite the same online.

Everyone has been too late onto a web page at some point. Whether it is chasing down tickets to a popular website-crashing performance or following up something exciting that you heard on a popular television show only to find out that all the other viewers beat you there. And there is nothing worse for the customer experience than being greeted with the ‘Error 404’ or ‘This website could not load’ page. Not only is it frustrating, but you begin to doubt whether you have chosen the right route to the tickets under the great pressure of accessing this limited product!

Ticketek took a slightly different approach today.

Anticipating the increased demand on the site, they brought in a new gateway. When the demand increased to a point where the website could no longer cope, any latecomers were taken to a screen branded with the Ticketek and Prince branding which let them they were in the right place, explained the situation about the website being overloaded and reassured them that they were currently in the queue to access tickets. But more than that, the page automatically refreshed every twenty-five seconds providing the users with a feeling of forward momentum rather than crushing defeat.

Chances are if you saw that screen then you were already too late. But your entire experience didn’t start with a website which wouldn’t load and end with a Prince poster emblazoned with the defeating words ‘SOLD OUT’. This new attempt engaged with you as an audience member, kept you updated and let you feel that you were continuously moving along the line closer and closer to reaching the front.

Inevitably, people are going to miss out, but that doesn’t mean they have to have a bad experience. Because they are all going to be searching for ticket scalpers tonight and you want them to come back to the proper booking platform next time!