I’ve written before about looking for ‘solutions’ to problems instead of looking for features when seeking out a great online registration system. After all more is not always better! I still think that no one should really care about features or the amount of them their software boasts having, as long as the problem they are seeking to resolve is solved. In this post I want to talk about 7 problems your online registration system should solve and also include how it should solve it!
Today I am going to continue the idea of solutions and not features and look at solutions (technological or otherwise) that our clients and prospective clients again and again seem to bring up. These popular problems seem to be what organization’s look for in software solutions to solve. I hope these prove enlightening if you never considered any of these problems before (it might be you have it but wouldn’t say it’s a problem because you didn’t know you could solve it with something better!)
Plus I find that it’s always helpful to see how the ‘solution’ plays out in practice, like what does it really mean when a software claims “no annual contracts” or “family registration” and how can these solutions make your life easier. If you hadn’t considered these top 7 registration ‘problems’ before, consider them now and evaluate whether your current or prospective registration software can offer the right solution for your organization!
Problem #1: No Annual Contracts
In the past I wrote a software pricing structure comparison post but it’s still point of confusion for many organizations. You have to really understand how you will use a software and what each will cost you depending on the model they use. Many of the organization’s we work with are seasonal, so the ability to pay for Regpack ONLY during the time they are using the system is a huge advantage for their budget. For organizations that run year round, this might not be a ‘problem’ but I find time and again seasonal organizations not knowing that month to month use could be an option when they are looking for online registration system.
Additionally, you can’t always know how things will pan out with a software, so finding a ‘no annual contract’ option gives you the freedom to walk away, change things up, add a service or take it away according to your needs and your budget so you’re never locked in to something that might not be working for you. If a software vendor does not offer it try to ask! Their response will give you a little insight about how flexible they are and how much they want your business. At Regpack we do not have annual contracts since we believe that the software should be so amazing that you will never want to leave and we work hard to make sure that is the case. If your software vendor wants to lock you in ask yourself why…
Problem #2: Great Customer Service
Obviously I hope this is a ‘solution’ that ALL software companies offer, or at least say they do. You should be able to think of your project manager as an extension of YOUR office and communicate what should be done and how before, during and after your registration period. When you have a problem, you should be able to reach someone and get the issue resolved, not bounced back to you.
There are those who will say that a great product does not really need support… Ha! These are normally Silicon Valley execs that think the support team is too expensive and basically live in la-la land (or look at clients only as a way to generate income). No business product, no matter how good it is, can work without support. Even Google supplies support to their business level users (organizations using AdWords, Google’s main source of income) because there is always an issue that requires a solution. And knowing that support is there goes a long way in making you feel like you aren’t alone!
Problem #3: Ease of Use
Some software options make the mistake of creating a GREAT product but that is complicated to use (i.e. once you figure it out or if you have a Ph.D. in computer science).
Google Adwords is a great example. Due to its complexity, there are companies out there that offer to manage the application for you for a pretty high premium (I have been trying to learn the app myself so I am talking from personal experience!). Any software should be a system that is intuitive for the average user who has no software knowledge. Avoid software choices that offer a complicated process to make changes or adjustments to your application and/or website. This is a problem just WAITING to happen with no real solution other than getting a new software! Even if they have great customer service, why waste your time constantly problem solving or troubleshooting or asking “hey how do I do this” when you can just skip to a software that is intuitive and has great customer service!
Problem #4: Website Integration
You have worked really hard to create the right “look and feel” and branding for your organization (and online spaces). You most likely have a website that offers all the information about your organization and what you offer to your clients (if you don’t, you should! It is 2015 after all). Once a prospective client has browsed through your offering and has decided to register, does it make sense to send them to a third party site??? Think of it like this: you come into a store and looked around, decided you want to buy something and then they tell you to cross the street and buy it in the store there. Would that seem “normal” to you? So why do that online where the competition is just a click away?
When money, payments and personal information are involved, users want to feel safe and secure. You have created that trust through your branding and hard work. They trust you, not someone else. So why are you telling them to rebuild the trust when they have decided to become a client? There’s something about being redirected to a different site (even if it is branded with your logo) that can be worrisome or cause some users to leave the process (i.e. check out your competition) or call you to do the process manually in order to avoid filling out the forms online.
When I say “some users to leave” I actually mean 27% of the users. Through looking at the stats we have generated from registering 1,236,743 applicants in 2014 alone and 2.9 million in 2015, this is the number we came up with. So it is not what I “think” but a hard fact that that is the case.
Consider choosing a software that runs on your website and your URL to instill trust and confidence in your applicants when they are completing your registration. This is one of those ‘problems’ that isn’t always obvious or something you think about until you’ve already moved your registration to a 3rd party site and then see some negative comments or the drop in registration numbers.
Problem #5: Flexible Reporting
Really think about the kind of reporting YOU need specifically from your registration software and then look for a software that provides these options. (And check out this helpful post about common reporting questions). The whole point of paying for software is to make your life easier and your work flow smoother. Many online registration system options offer a limited amount of templates. For some organizations, this is great and all they need. For others, it’s severely lacking for them in terms of functionality and manipulation, which seems pretty counter-intuitive to me, since the whole idea of reports is to be HELPFUL. How can they be that if they don’t feature the information you need and leave out what you don’t!?
Really consider your exact needs and what would help YOU when evaluating online registration system providers. In my opinion, this ability is a HUGE feature to consider when looking at different registration options since this is a piece that can really help improve your workflow and make your organization as a whole more efficient (i.e. save you time and money!)
Problem #6: Family Systems & Family Registration
This isn’t a feature saves you time and money but actually makes you money! Whether you are a camp or registering participants for a conference, many people want to register an unlimited amount of people under one ‘family’ or ‘company’ and pay for those participants as one unit. If it is done correctly this ability should allow your users to register as a whole but at the same time enter any type of information that is specific for each child or each employee attending the conference. When done right, you will see families registering more than one child or companies entering multiple people to an event since it is just another click. (One of our clients told us all about how they love company registration for their membership events, read it here).
This can be really be helpful to your clients and save them time which makes them LOVE you even more than they probably already do. This feature just improves the overall experience your clients have with your organization – which is never a bad thing since positive experiences mean they are more likely to recommend you to others and become a repeat customer.
Problem #7: Invoicing
This is just a must when it comes to an online registration system in my mind, but never the less is not a feature that always comes standard with a registration solution.
As the administrator of the system you should be able to send invoices to your applicants and the software should allow you the ability to create invoices that can be sent automatically to applicants when they finish registering or manually if you choose.
I even wrote a whole post about payment confirmation emails that detail how awesome it is to have a template email that populates automatically with the client’s payment information, details, balance, etc. and automatically sends out when a user makes a payment. If you want to learn more about writing effective emails to your registrants, there is a whole eBook on the subject.
This type of functionality makes you look very professional and keeps the information flowing from you to the applicant and back again so everyone is on the same page, and most importantly, you’re getting paid! And even more importantly, the time it takes to generate invoices through an automatic system is invaluable. Time = money always, and the shorter amount of time you spend invoicing people, the more you can do while still getting paid!
Conclusion: An Online registration system is a problem solver!
Every organization is different and requires a different set of essential solutions when looking for a registration process to fit their needs. The important thing is finding a software that allows flexibility – automated emails in general are great, but the feature itself should be customized to exactly how you need to use it. Same with reporting, invoicing and beyond!