As a follow up to last week’s post on 5 Things I Learned Registering 1,236,743 Applicants in 2014, I wanted to look at what I consider a huge theme in the registration software market: features!
2014 was a very productive year for Regpack. We added 531 new features and registered 1,236,743 applicants. We saved the 3,000+ organizations that use Regpack 60 hours a month which means we’re saving the world more than 180,000 work hours a month! It was truly an amazing year. We all worked a little too much, but thankfully we have something to show for it! 🙂
Now back to the features…. we added 531 features (yep, you read correctly five hundred and thirty one new features) this year and in spite that I want to say that is doesn’t really matter. Why am I belittling such a big achievement? After all it is a great marketing sentence and it is true! We added a ton of stuff via hours and hours of hard work (And blood! And sweat! And tears! Just kidding! Not about the tears though). But really the point is that while the headline is that we added so many new features, the boring headline is really that we created solutions for our clients so that the seamless and amazing flow that they wanted for their users and their staff will just be possible. And since every business and every organization is different that means we needed to create very powerful tools and solutions to allow the flexibility needed to create a seamless process for all of our 3,000+ organizations.
While ‘features’ is the buzzword, what we really feel like we accomplished in 2014 was creating amazing solutions for our clients. Features are things that only developers should really care about. When I am looking at a software that will help an aspect of my business I don’t really care about the features it offers me, I care if it is solving the problems I am facing. I care if it is supplying me with solutions. This is what we have done with the 531 new features we added to Regpack this year.
Below I wanted to highlight some of Regpack’s very own solutions, but in the greater context of the solutions registration software should be providing to clients in general and how that can be achieved. I have listed how many features it takes to implement such a solution just to show how meaningless features are.
1. Payment Solutions: Making Payments Seamless, Scheduled Payments and Automated Payments
Payments are the core of any business. In order to function you need to get your clients paying. Enabling them to pay online makes that easy and seamless for them and results in you getting paid faster. But processing payments is not easy since there is zero tolerance for mistakes and problems with payments. Any confusion, any question mark makes people stop right away and not make the payment. Any possible mistake in the balance they owe or any possible inconsistency will make your client put their credit card back in their pocket. And rightfully so. It is easier not to pay and send an email for clarification then pay and later request a refund. So how do you achieve seamless, streamlines and error free payments?
You start with making your payment process a seamless part of your registration software. As they are going through the process they should just reach the payment page that will allow them to pay right on your site without going anywhere else (think of buying a shirt and then needing to go to the store next door to actually pay, how many people will actually do that?). A registrant’s account dashboard should show their updated balance, a list of previous payments and the date those payments were made. Payment reminder emails as well as payment invoice emails should be automated and sent out with the correct information so registrants are always in the loop and not constantly calling you to figure out what they owe and when it’s due by and how they can pay. Just typing that sentence seems like a big problem in need of a solution.
Including an integrated payment processor in your application contributes to a seamless experience. A registrant can pay right on your site, and save their payment information so that future payments are literally one click and done. Regpack added 99 new features in order to further make the integration of payments into the registration processes totally seamless. It is actually so seamless that our clients claim they are getting paid 90-120 days faster than before using Regpack!
For organizations that have high priced tickets (like educational tourism or long terms programs) or organizations that open registration for their events or programs 6 or 8 months before they begin there is a major issue: people come in, register, complete everything, and then they need to make installment payments or need to pay the full amount only 3 months down the road. This is not a problem to be taken lightly. It means that either you are not going to get paid, or not going to get paid on time or you will find yourself needing to remind people to go in and pay. How can this problem be solved (notice, solutions not features)?
By offering an automated payment schedule, meaning a system that charges the applicant on the correct date the correct amount. They can set this up initially while they register so there is no going back in the system months later. Applicants can’t forget to pay because since it’s all automated and they will receive emails when their payments go through so they know all is well! This solution is also great for organizations that already offer installment payments, but they aren’t automated, so instead of creating several more times for applicants to forget to pay they are making everything automated. The applicants love it since they do not need to go back into the registration software and remember to pay.
Enabling automatic scheduled payments required more than 190 features in order to implement. Does it matter? No, since the solution it supplies is what is important. Hundreds of our clients are using this solution already and seeing amazing results.
2. Individual Registration Flow = More Applicants
Registration is not fun. Period. No one likes doing it and everyone just wants to get over with it. I know that since I have registered my kids to school and camp multiple times so I’m not a stranger to being on the other end of registration.
This is a real issue since registration is the base of the client on-boarding for so many organizations. Without applicants going through the process they cannot supply them the service. Medical information needs to be gathered, correct services need to be selected, emergency contact information needs to be obtained and a lot more. So how do you make sure your applicants finish the process (which means you on-boarded them) and still make it as short, easy and pain-free as possible for them? By controlling the flow each and every applicant goes through. Basically making the flow individualized.
How do you make the registration process individualized when there are so many variables to take into consideration and when every applicant is unique and special? The answer is “Conditional Logic”. This is the basis for an individualized registration software and process. It allows you to move applicants automatically between stages of your application, showing them the proper forms they need for their specific application. Offering a system that behaves like this means applicants feel as though the process if personalized for them, the questions and balances they are shown make sense and are unique to them, which if it all goes well means that your customer service and troubleshooting calls go down by a lot, allowing you to focus on more important tasks on your plate.
So how does this look? You use conditional logic to present only the questions, forms and products you offer that will be relevant and meaningful to that specific applicant. In Regpack this is done through a module called “triggering”. You basically trigger something to happen when something else happens. For example, you might ask a question “Are you interested in housing?”. If he answers yes, then he will be asked to fill in the forms needed for that option and products connected to housing will be included in their product selection. If the applicant indicates he does not want housing, his personalized application will not include housing forms and fees. One answer will change the whole process for them. And that applies to multiple questions they answer. Hence by setting logic on a question to question basis (only for those needed) the system automatically creates an individualized flow for each applicant.
This kind of intelligence eliminates the confusion created by a “one-size-fits-all application” that will tell you to fill out housing forms and add in housing fees – this can be confusing for both applicants who want and don’t want housing when it comes to how much they owe and what forms they need to complete. It also helps the applicant avoid thinking about what they are doing when filling out your application since they do not need to wade through all the paperwork in order to decide which forms and fees are a match to their specific situation. While it can take time and concentration setting this kind of system up at the beginning, it pays back the initial time invested almost immediately and then some.
Regpack added 203 new features in order to make the flow as seamless as possible for each and every applicant. These features can create endless solutions to complex problems for organizations that could not find a solution until now. Do these features matter? No, they are cool to talk about during our developer meetings but what is important are the solutions it gives our clients to their problems. And selfishly, improves OUR product for future clients we hope to onboard in 2015 and beyond!
3. Automation and Communication
Regpack is all about automation. The main concept behind Regpack is to automate any task that repeats itself in the registration process, to prevent any manual work on the user side or the admin side that does not demand thinking. Basically leave to us humans only what we can do (like thinking of complex problems that the answer to them is not obvious) and anything that is just logic, leave to the computer. I believe we have gone a long way in the automation of registration this year (we still have a lot of ideas we will be implementing in 2015 as well).
Automation starts at the registration process by automating the flow, questions, products and forms presented to the applicant but it does not end there. It continues with the automation of communication, the automation of administrative tasks and the automation of reporting.
Automation frees up time and allows you to communicate with clients on the important things. Which doesn’t seem to make sense, right? 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 seems surprising that communication becomes more personal, even with the increase in automation.
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! Make sense?
Basically, you should be spend your “free time” that an automated system gives you by doing a lot of the grunt 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, that might have often just been a canned response or copy paste from another similar email, not an actual personal note to them. Sometimes that extra personal attention makes a huge difference in the experience they have with your organization.
An automated 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.
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.
In 2014 we added 96 features that foster automation and enhance the ability to automate tasks!
4. Reporting and Analytic Understanding
A good registration software is going to give you amazing and seemingly unlimited reporting possibilities. It’s your data, so you should be able to manipulate it and use it in any way that you need.
The first thing you need to create great reports is a filtering system that allows you to filter your data in an infinite amount of ways. This means you should be allowed to make your filters as broad or as specific as you need to create any report you need – list of contact information for players for your coaches of your sports league, medical information for all campers in Bunk 12 or list of all event attendees from Minnesota. Whatever your criteria, a search should let you filter it as you need!
The next step in a great reporting system is exporting that filtered data to formats that make sense and are useful to you and your team.
Lastly, your reporting should be able to give you an analytic understanding of your data, not just show you a bunch of names or numbers and leave you scratching your head what it all MEANS! This means your data should be able to show a breakdown of any project, or any aspect of any project. The system should be able to give you easy to read and understand graphs that allows you to really understand and use your data to the fullest. Regpack specifically even lets you run statistics on filters you’ve previously created!! You didn’t even know you wanted to do that, did you?
Running stats is great to understand your data, to make changes and improvements to your product based on what the data is telling you. Your system should let you track user actions and learn from them – what is working, what isn’t and how can you make a real time change that will improve what isn’t working so well. And with more people completing your application smoothly and without issues, the more COMPLETED applications you’ll see – which translates to full programs and full bank accounts!
- In 2014 Regpack added 531 new features and registered 1,236,743 applicants!
- We saved the 3,000+ organizations that use Regpack 60 hours a month!
- We added 99 new features in order to further make the integration of payments into the registration processes totally seamless.
- Our clients reported that they are getting paid 90-120 days faster than before using Regpack!
- We enabled automatic scheduled payments which required more than 190 features in order to implement.
- We added 203 new features in order to make the registration flow as seamless as possible for each and every applicant.
- Lastly, we added 96 features that foster automation and enhance the ability to automate tasks!
For us, that is an impressive list of features and we’re really proud to have solved so many problems our clients have been facing. It’s our mission to provide a great product and that starts with listening to who we serve and giving them what they need to make our already pretty great software, even greater!
We have tons more ideas to improve and streamline registration and automation in 2015 and can’t wait to get started! Happy new year everyone!