Too Many Clicks, Too Much Typing

Compare and contrast:

Renew two software licenses

-Login at software company website. Both licenses are listed. A “renew license” link appears next to each license. There is no way to select both licenses for simultaneous renewal.

-Type name, address, etc. on online order form.

-Click link to “preferred” credit-card processor.

-Type name, address, credit card info on online form.

-Click “pay” link. Get rejected by credit card company.

-Repeat entire process starting at software company home page. Get rejected again by credit card company.

-Call credit card company, get connected quickly to pleasant human, explain that charge is legit. Problem resolved. Now back to work…

-Return to software company home page. Again type name, address, etc. on online order form. Attempt for third time to pay via “preferred” credit-card processor. No! — rejected again, this time by card processor for too many unsuccessful transaction attempts.

-Return to home page at software company site and repeat entire process (filling in name, address, etc.) from the beginning. Select “pay by phone” instead of credit card. Dial phone number, expecting to speak with a human. Instead receive recorded instructions to leave a message with name, order number, credit-card details. System gives no confirmation of order if I order in this way, and order will take up to 3 days to process. No, thanks.

-Return to home page at software company site and repeat entire process (filling in name, address, etc.) from the beginning. Click “pay by PayPal” link. Login to PayPal. Type name, address, etc. I want to pay using credit card but PayPal has other ideas, keeps asking me if I’m sure I don’t want to pay with bank transfer, gold bullion or cumbersome stone disks. Click click click. Finally, the transaction goes through. Success!

-Return to home page at software company site and repeat entire process (filling in name, address, PayPal login, etc.) from the beginning for the second software license.

-Send sales dept @ software company email asking them to disregard incomplete phone order.


Renew expiring Internet domain(s)

-Domain registrar has my name, address, credit card # on file, automatically renews (unless I opt out, which I can do easily) expiring domains and sends me email confirmation. No logging in, no clicks, no typing.

4 thoughts on “Too Many Clicks, Too Much Typing”

  1. The experience wasn’t that bad. However, it made me realize that the software company, which seems to be well run in other ways, could much improve its ordering system by making a few improvements to its web site. The customer’s information fields, including credit card # at the customer’s option, should auto-populate from the site’s DB, or at least the customer’s info should be saved after the first time he enters it. It should not be necessary to navigate through several distinct sites. And so forth.

  2. Too many American businesses seem to be engaged in a contest with their local Departments of Motor Vehicles to see who can create the most pointlessly-bureaucratic customer experience.

    The late Dr Michael Hammer advised executives to “staple yourself to an invoice” (or an order, or whatever the particular business transaction may be) and observe how it flows through the business system and where the delays, wasted effort, and bottlenecks might be. Pretty clear that wasn’t done in this case.

  3. Well, in their defense, many people don’t like the idea of one’s credit card data being kept by a company. There are too many instances where such data has been stolen by thieves and not noted for months. I somewhat object to this sort of thing, too. This sort of thing might be mitigated if the CCs get smart and start developing some new payment paths… some of them already have one-shot CC numbers you can obtain (i.e., you define the amount and they give you a unique number good for a single-time usage to give to the company making the charge).

    Next up, I think, are regular payment numbers which can be applied to recurring charges — you set an amount and a regularity and they allow that charge amount to go through on roughly that schedule from that one company which initially places it (having gotten the CC number from you). If the amount changes or they attempt to make the charge outside the proper regularity, it’s held for confirmation or rejected, an e-mail is sent advising of the problem. (I also think that most of the financial companies make vastly inadequate usage of the notification power of e-mail, even if that’s only to say “please visit us, we have something which requires your attention”)

    One thing I’m REALLY surprised no one has figured out is specialty deposit numbers — i.e., if you give someone a number they can, via CC, make a deposit directly into your account. This could be of particular use for landlords and so on, anyone who regularly gets checks and has to pick them up and deposit them.

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