2015 is over and it is time to do a roundup of what changed, what got better and overall what we did. I am sure each and every one of you is looking back at their year, both personally and professionally, and thinking “Did we have a good year?”,”Could I have done something better?”, “What can I learn for next year?”. I’m no different, and I will start by saying that as the founder and CEO of Regpack I am pretty proud of what the Regpack team has accomplished this year! A lot of what we do is behind the scenes and that is how I think it should be. Our goal is always making the process of registering applicants for our clients that use us as seamless, easy, enjoyable and as unmemorable as possible!
Why unmemorable? Because registration is annoying, and if you can go through the process easily and without having any negative or frustrated feelings towards it (because it just worked) then it means we did our job! The fact that we grew the number of people we registered with Regpack from 1,236,743 in 2014 to 2,945,768 in 2015 means we are doing something right. After all, growing 145.3% in one year is pretty amazing and we’re feeling pretty awesome this time around!
Last year I wrote about 5 things I learned registering over a million applicants, so I’m back this year with what I’ve learned registering almost 3 million. There are some things in common with the 2014 post, but many are different. I assume it’s because of the volume we did this year and also due to the fact that we are demanding more of ourselves and our clients are getting used to demanding more too (which is a good thing)!
#1 It really is all about solutions to problems. No one (should) care about features!
Perhaps you’re tired of me saying this but it really it’s so true. When I look at other software out there, and really, any business tool being sold, the focus is always on the features. Pick us because we have the most features! We are awesome because we have 1 million features (insert image of Dr. Evil raising his pinky finger to his mouth). And features are great! I’ll happily boast of the 673 features we added in 2015! It’s a nice metric to show how much work you’ve done and the variety of ways your software can work for many different needs.
But features are really solutions to problems or challenges you are facing with your registration or with your business as a whole. Don’t get caught up with the number of features, and instead focus on what your problem areas are and which features a software can offer you that will effectively solve that problem for you. I approach “problems” my clients bring me by brainstorming what feature or features are needed to solve their problem. Features are a working tool for development teams. They should be unimportant for you as a client.
This year I have dealt a lot of financials (getting bigger has its downsides… meeting with bankers and financial people really is annoying lol) and I can give a great example from that field (as much as I dislike it, there is a lot of learn from it). When I am looking for solutions for money distributing funds to thousands of companies (since Regpack pays out the processing we do to the organization) I really do not care about features, right? I have a specific problem and I want to find a company, a bank, a service or a combination of the three that can solve the challenge I have. When working with financial institutions, I never heard the word “feature”. Not once! They were all talking about finding the correct solutions to the specific needs I have. Why do we expect anything different from software? Why are we playing the developers game when we are looking for business solutions?
At Regpack we understood this long ago (since it is sort of my personal crusade to get the software industry to talk about solutions rather than features) and everyone on the team is focused on presenting solutions to our clients. A solution will always include multiple features or a combination of features that seem disconnected but when put together and configured correctly they create the exact solution our client needs. That is how we approach our work with clients: we try to understand the problem or challenge they are facing and then internally we determine which feature combination is needed to present a solution that actually works!
#2 A seamless registration process is hard to achieve but the rewards are immense!
I will start by saying that your registration or onboarding process is one of the most important parts of your business! If you are registering people to an event, a camp, a school, to courses, for volunteering, vendors that will supply you goods to your company or people applying for insurance – you are not going to serve anyone if you do not onboard them first. Period! So the registration / onboarding process is basically the same thing as a cashier at a store. If it is annoying or hard to checkout, no one is going to buy anything. But unlike just paying a cashier, registration is a lot more complicated. It includes the gathering of information, the presentation of options tailored to the applicant, the payment and then the client management and supply of the service they signed up for.
I have written before about how registration is your storefront. In 2015 we learned that seamless and friction free is the most important part of registration. Basically making the registration “blend into the background”. The determining test for this is pretty simple: if you would ask someone how did registration go they will answer: “I can’t really remember” or “it was fine”. This means it was seamless.
Why do I say that “a seamless registration process is hard to achieve”? To have a process that is just unmemorable should not be hard, right? Actually it is really hard considering that in order to achieve it you need to do the following:
- Ask people only the questions that are relevant to them.
- Present options and services that are only correct for them.
- Flow them through the process in a way that will not seem odd or strange. This is especially difficult considering you have multiple processes for different situations.
- Enable them to “click and forgot” meaning that if they want something to happen in the future it will “just happen”.
- Make sure you are communicating all the correct information to them at the correct time and all the while making sure there is no information overload.
- Allow them to jump around and then still adjust the process accordingly without them feeling anything happened.
- Solve end cases and issues in a way that the user does not feel something went wrong or that they did something wrong.
Doesn’t seem that easy anymore, does it? But it is possible! Out of our 4,000+ organizations, 99% of them reached that point with the help of their dedicated project manager and by using the tools and features that exist in Regpack (in order to create a solution!).
Enabling all the above means that you really need to know your audience. The online registration process for people over 60 is very different than a process for parents and that too is different from a process for teenagers. Once this initial understanding is done, you can make use of the #1 tool in Regpack for optimizing the process for each individual and making it personal: triggering. This will allow you to set who sees what and when and who is able to do what and when.
Regpack automatically translates these rules into a seamless process for each individual. That is one of the main things we worked on in 2015 – adding 673 new features to make everything “just happen” and to enable you to configure it in a way that works best for your specific audience.
The results of a seamless process is that applicants feel as though the process is unique to them and therefore ACCURATE for them. They can easily move through the process without your help, meaning you spend less time explaining what balance is owed and when, and more time communicating meaningfully with your applicants and working on your product to make it the best it can be!
Creating these rules and a seamless process will result in more completed applications, more on time payments and less time spent on customer service issues related to the registration process. Conditional logic allows every unique user to have a different application experience since the questions, forms and balances they are presented with are unique to them.
Another example of personalization is your communication. This too, like the registration process needs to be specific and tailored to each individual. After all, everyone likes to feel special, and there is nothing like sending a bulk email to make them NOT feel special. Furthermore, sending out generic bulk emails isn’t as effective as sending out an email addressed to that person and full of personal details, like their balances, products they’ve registered for and due dates specific to their order. Don’t underestimate these small details, which a registration software helps you to provide, in getting your programs filled and paid in full! It’s not magic, it’s a customized process that puts the applicant first and gives them what they need to help them move through the process seamlessly! I created an entire eBook about communicating effectively with you clients, so check that out!
#3 – Support and personal connection triumphs system abilities.
I really, truly believe “you are only as good as your weak link” and furthermore you will always have multiple weak links. Some treat such an understanding as a way to feel discouraged. At Regpack, we take it as a challenge! Our focus is to find that weak link in the process or the application in the system and fix it. At the same time we remember that “you will always have multiple weak links” which means that this is a battle that will never be finished. This means you need to find a solution to the structural problem. The problem might sound daunting but the solution is pretty simple: have amazing support! This goes for the support Regpack gives our clients and the support our clients give to their applicants.
In 2015 we worked on making sure that admins were alerted to every situation that went wrong for an applicant during the registration process, so the admins can reach out to us for help. This allows the admins to be proactive when things breaks, which they always do no matter how good you are, and allows us to be proactive in fixing issues that arise ASAP. If an applicant got lost in the process, was not able to make a payment successfully or a number of other issues, you need to know about it so you can help them, and so that we can help you! Knowing it happened at a system level is not an easy thing to do but it is possible (which is part of the 673 features we built and again why I say they are not important since they are there to solve a problem, not for themselves). Once the problem is understood, the Regpack support team supplied the answers, videos, training and anything else that was needed in order to resolve the problem right away.
S**t happens, the question is how you deal with it. My third most important understanding from registering nearly 3 million people is that you need to first know about it and second have the tools and means to solve it. Totally preventing it is just not possible.
#4 People STILL hate filling out forms!
This is the mantra we all repeat to ourselves as we are coming to work every morning. I even have a funny picture of my son holding a sign that says “People hate filling out forms” on my desk (he heard me once say it and went into a 1 hour Q&A with me about what are forms and why people hate them).
People hate registering! People don’t want to spend time filling out forms! So how can I create a product that will make this process as simple and straightforward as possible. How can we make payments easier and more intuitive? How can we streamline this process even more? There are a lot of ways to make this easier such as:
- Automatically porting over information from one year to the next for returning clients.
- Allowing social registration in order to bring some information in seamlessly.
- Making sure the process is seamless and only the questions they need to answer are presented to them.
- Allowing people to skip and come back to forms if they need to.
- Saving all information automatically so you never have that “What? I need to do all this again!?!?” moments and much more…
Once you understand that registration is a needed evil you will make your forms easier to work with, you will invest time in making sure the process is seamless and you will bring in the rewards for this mind set: more happy applicants completing the process.
#5 Everyone, I mean EVERYONE, is on their phone. Being optimized for mobile is essential.
This has been a big focus for me this past year as more and more people are using their phones for pretty much everything, including registration. Making sure that our system works just as flawlessly on mobile as it does online has been a key focus on many of the new features we’ve put out this past year!
To be successful in business, everything from your website to your application process needs to work on mobile because often times that is where your applicants are coming from when they enter your site and begin your process. Making it difficult for them to access your business on a mobile device is something you want to avoid at all costs!
I’m still kind of in shock that we went from 1.2 to 2.9 MILLION applicants registered through our systems this past year. What an accomplishment, one I’m so proud of and one that could not have been achieved without the wonderful Regpack team!
To think that 5 years ago Regpack was just an idea and now we are a top 5 event management software platform and a top 10 membership management platform is unreal. Our competition includes big name companies with tons of money in investments. But our clients are wonderful and I think our goal to provide solutions (rather than features) that address the needs of our CLIENTS is what sets us apart!
I can’t wait until the end of 2016 to see how far we’ll go and what more we’ve achieved!