“But if I do not have direct connection with my registrants I will lose touch with them!” This is how Nancy, the lead registrar of a large youth movement in the U.S., started her conversation with me after her director requested she talk to us about automating their registration process. After speaking with Nancy about how an automated registration software could actually improve relationships with her clients, she agreed to give it a shot. Spoiler alert: as of today all of their processes are automated and everyone is happy!
Nancy’s initial concern about losing touch with her clients has stayed in my head since we first spoke and I finally said to myself I have to do something about this! Everyone should know that automation doesn’t kill your business, it saves it!
I was speaking with Nancy the other day and she brought up that very conversation we had so long ago. She told me looking back, she can’t believe she believed automating their processes would negatively impact their client communication. I knew it was finally time to “do something” about this feeling, so here I am, penning a blog post about it. 🙂
Automation means more contact with clients, not less.
So many companies truly believe that anything automated means less personal contact and connection with their clients. Ever seen that bank commercial where everyone shows up to the dry cleaners looking for a human to give them service, but all they have is a blender?
Companies really believe (and you might too) that by automating aspects of their business they are essentially killing it. And while we totally agree that without personal contact, constant communication and human attention your business might suffer, when we talk about automating registration we are NOT talking about cutting out completely human contact with your clients. We are just eliminating the times when there is no need for direct human contact and automating those communications. That way you have more time to spend with clients in meaningful ways and automate the admin tasks you were previously spending hours on. Put in another way, we are talking about automating the tasks that machines can do and giving you time to do what only humans can do!
We recently posted an article on our Facebook page which reported that automation is now used to create more personalized communication and interactions. One thing we’ve found time and again from our clients is that once they begin using an automated registration system for their business, the meaningful time they were able to communicate with clients increased and their headaches and wasted time from registration issues decreased. (Read more about what our clients had to say here, here and here).
When you can move from one person taking care of 100 applicants to one person taking care of up to 500-1000 applicants in the same amount of time, it’s not surprising that communication is moving in a more personalized direction. Nonetheless, there are many businesses out there, especially the small and medium sized ones, who still feel that automation will take the heart out of their creation. And more importantly, they feel like the cost of implementing this kind of automatic process will be prohibitive for them.
But automating your registration database software pays for itself in the long run through the more meaningful relationships you build with your clients. Below are 3 reasons why.
1. Increase meaningful communication with your clients.
We’ve worked with tons of registrar’s and the one complaint they always have is the amount of time they spend corresponding with clients and potential clients about their individual status during registration. Communication like…
- Payment reminders
- Emailing forms back and forth
- Asking for additional information
- Following up on forms that are incomplete
The list goes on and on. While you’ll never be able to get away from certain kinds of people who email you about every little thing no matter how awesomely automated your system is, the majority of people respond (or better, don’t respond!!! punny!) when they receive clear, concise and informative emails from you about their status. And you can spend virtually no time sending these out to hundreds of people in the span of a few minutes (link to personalized bulk emailing)!
By freeing up the need for sending individual emails to each and every applicant with questions, forms, follow-ups, payment reminders, etc you can spend that time instead communicating meaningfully with them.
Maybe in the past you never had time to construct a great blog post with photos and videos highlighting your last session. This is a great idea not just for marketing your program but also as a way to pump up the upcoming session for what awaits them. You never had time before because you were too busy emailing payment due emails or calling unresponsive participants to check if they are still coming. These small things you want to do but never could before really do make a difference in the experience of your participants and will add value and excitement to your product.
Spend your free time with an automated online registration software doing the work for you on tasks that increase real connections with your clients. Even if you are just doing a routine follow-up about something, now you can do it on the phone and have a nice, non business related chat to personally connect with that client. In the past, you only had time for a quick email. Sometimes that extra personal attention makes a huge difference in the experience they have with your organization.
Which brings us to…
2. Improve your customer’s experience.
Providing an easy to use and professional automated system is the first glimpse into your organization that your client has. When they see a system that is smart, innovative and easy to use, their opinion of your company follows that same pattern. This company has it together. This company will most likely give me a positive experience. It may seem silly but we’re all guilty of judging a book by its cover. Not to mention, a truly good looking and good functioning system will confirm these initial impressions and will most likely return as repeat clients as well as happily pass on your name to others.
And let’s be real, no one likes registration. It’s annoying, data driven and without a great system, time consuming for you and the user. Clients want to get registration out of the way, so giving them a way to get it out of the way that’s quick, easy and involves the least time commitment on their end is going to earn you an A+ in overall user experience and satisfaction.
An automated online registration software will also cut down on problems users inevitably encounter during the registration process so you’ll most likely have less angry/frustrated/annoyed people calling and emailing you about problems they are experiencing…because they won’t have any.
Clients are coming to your site for the experience you are going to give them. Keep them on track by allowing them to move through the registration process quickly. As you are doing that you can also give them a little about what is expected for them through the system itself as a way to improve their overall experience with you before even attending your program (this will make them happy)!
For example, one of our summer camp clients included photos from the previous session on each page of their registration of a kid/kids having a blast with a sentence to go with it to encourage the user to continue and get them excited for what’s to come. “Just 3 more steps until John starts the best summer of his life!” and “All you have left is the payment, and then Alex will be enrolled in the best camp on on the East Coast!” are just some examples.
Which brings us to…
3. Put more time and manpower into your products to make them better and more “you”.
An automated online registration software will free up some of your time you’d otherwise be spending answering status emails about whether the client paid or not, or whether the enrollment is complete, and instead use that time to focus on your product offerings.
Camps might want to spend some more time learning about or preparing for great games/programs/crafts that campers will love. A conference team might be able to spend more time preparing sessions or reaching out to vendors that aren’t necessary for the conference but add more depth and variety, but in the past had no time to pursue.
The point is, there is always something else you can be doing to make your company even better than it already is! Ideally, you will spend each minute of your day as productively as possible. However we all get bogged down in menial tasks that ‘just have to get done’. Usually registration and the resulting work (emails, phone calls, etc) fall into that category.
Finding an automated online registration software or automating what you currently use won’t necessarily take all the work out of registration, but it will streamline it on your end, as well as for your clients, making registration as efficient as possible for you and your team. This will free up time for you and your staff so they can take their ‘free’ time and invest it in growing your organization.
Improving what you can offer your clients through an automated system that gives them an easy and seamless experience not only improves your profits but also the experience of your customers. Improved customer experience fosters a high level of trust in your brand which will make your clients more willing to share your company with others by recommending your business. Your brand and image are what people will return for and the reason people will share their love for you with others.
So when Nancy had qualms about automating her registration for fear that she would lose touch with her clients, and therefore lose business along the way…we said this: automating your registration frees you up to INCREASE your communication with your clients, not diminish it. And not just that, it will improve your business, your internal workflow and ultimately your profits. With so many businesses, including many in your field, already on the automation bandwagon, what are you waiting for?!