many receipts

Emailed Receipts as a Multi-Purpose User Experience Tool

Ryan Hoover’s blog is a pretty casual take on persuasive design. But he often has some good insights there so I read it regularly. This post on email receipts caught my eye so I thought I would share.

Instinctively, I opened the email, quickly glanced at the charge to verify the dollar amount, and archived it. Later that day I reflected on that moment and thought, “What a missed opportunity.” Every month Buffer’s email receipt captures the attention of (arguably) its most valuable users: its paying customers. But it’s wasted with a message that goes unnoticed. (read more…)

Traditionally, we think of emailed confirmations and receipts to be pretty functional – they confirm to the customer that everything happened as expected. This is an important step because this is one of the steps in the purchase tunnel that has the most uncertainty and risk. I have hit the button on some web sites and nothing happens. Did the purchase go through? I have even been in situations where I had to call the 1-800 number to find out. Just happened to me last week with an airline ticket purchase. Can’t leave that hanging – the last thing I want to have happen is to show up the airport with no ticket. Confirmations reduce loss aversion, risk perception, post-purchase regret, etc.

But just because the confirmation needs to do this, and probably should do it immediately to make sure it gets done, doesn’t mean that this is ALL the confirmation should do. It is one of the few artifacts that we can be pretty sure customers are reading. So what else can it do?

As Ryan points out, this is also a great opportunity for some persuasive design. As the customer’s uncertainty and anxiety are ebbing away, you can grab them with an engaging message about something they can do next. It can be cross-promotional with another product they should consider. It can be pure branding as Ryan suggests. It can be something social, like sharing their purchase with their friends.

But it has to fit, both procedurally and with your brand narrative. I had one receipt that suggested reviewing the product on the site’s reputation management system. How the heck can I review it if I just bought it that second? I am sure they imagined I could save the email with the receipt, but who is going to waste their Inbox with an old receipt. I have enough pending to-do list items there already!!

I am not sure Ryan’s example is the best choice, which is why I skipped over that. But I would be interested in your experience, either as a designer or as a customer. What would you like to see there?

Image credit: “ASCII Art Tweets on a Till-roll Receipt Printer” by Paul Downey used under CC BY 2.0

7 thoughts on “Emailed Receipts as a Multi-Purpose User Experience Tool”

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