New Year’s is often the time when people think back on their year, what they want to improve upon, what new things they want to try and what goals they want to reach in the next 365 days. I urge you to ask yourself the question “What is my passion?” this New Year’s, write down your answers and GET MOVING! Choose to pour yourself into the activities that fuel your passion, focus on what is most important to you and don’t shy away from taking chances and exploring new avenues. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take as they say, and it’s much easier to test the waters when you identify what you feel passionate about and go after it!
Now that I’ve waxed poetic about the New Year, I wanted to take the opportunity to share what I’ve learned this past year registering over 1.2 MILLION applicants with Regpack! And seriously, that number is real. 1 million, 2 hundred and thirty six thousand, seven hundred and forty three people. AMAZING! I’d like to think this number isn’t just a not so humble brag of how much Regpack has accomplished this year, but also gives me some registration street cred when I make suggestions, offer up advice and tell you that I’m an expert when it comes to Registration. In addition, in 2013 we registered 20% of that so I guess we are doing something right as our numbers are exploding! Hopefully you’ll believe me and take to heart the post below – 5 things I’ve learned about registration.
This is a list I put together and that I believe are the 5 essential truths of registration for ANY organization. They can help you if you’re trying to make your registration process better, considering whether to alter your registration process or online registration software, or want to evaluate your current process and registration software and make sure its the best one for you. Feel free to comment and let me know if I got it wrong or if I am missing anything!
And of course, no New Year’s post is complete without this sentiment…
I personally wish you nothing but success, happiness and fulfillment, both in your personal life and professionally as we welcome the year 2015!
1. It is all about solutions, not features!
Everyone is talking about features! What features a software has, how the feature works, what you get out of it etc… Inspite of being a programmer and my day to day is all about building and approving features, I never actually think of features as something important! Features are a means to an end, the end is to solve problems. Features enable that but they are meaningless for anyone that is not a programmer. As a user all you should care about are solutions. And solutions normally need multiple features in order to function. That is why at Regpack we never talk about “features” with our clients but about solutions.
Solutions will make your registration software work for you. That is what we have focused on with all of our clients and it has paid off. We have registered 5 times more applicants than last year and our clients have not added a single employee to do that. How? We did this by understanding the problems and then figuring out the solutions that were needed to solve them. Then I sat down with my development team and said “This is the problem and the solution we have come up with, what features are needed in order to make this work?”.
So features are an end, they are built in order to make the solution work and to make the problem go away. That way applicants can fly through the process, our clients (registrars) can spend less time dealing with administrative tasks and the accounting department is happy since the payments come in faster, accurate and on time. Solutions do that! Features just create a cognitive overload that will prevent that.
2. Flow is everything and conditional logic makes flow work.
This might sound strange coming from someone that registered so many applicants this year… But I think that Registration sucks!. No one likes doing it, I have not met one person yet that is just dying to go through a registration process. It is something we need to do in order to be able to get the service we want. For that reason every single person that does it wants it over with as quickly as possible. In order to do that you need to make sure the following happens:
- You are not making your applicant think – they can just fill out the information and be done with it.
- You are not asking your applicants questions that do not apply to them (and therefore making them think if they need to answer it or not).
- You are not making your applicants answer questions more than once.
- You are not making your applicants go through unneeded processes for their specific and individual registration.
How do you make all that happen? With FEATURES!!! Just kidding. You make this happen by implementing multiple solutions that can be summarized as “conditional logic”. Conditional logic will allow your online registration software to make the application process individualized for every applicant and prevent you from doing the things listed above. An individualized registration system will guide each individual applicant through the application and provide him or her with only the forms and information pertinent to them. Instead of a paper application or 1 huge application, you tailor every process to the individual user. This sounds complicated and like a lot of work, I know, but with the right software I promise you it’s not.
“Conditional logic” creates a smooth and logical process for the applicant that is personalized for him. Conditional logic allows you to move applicants automatically between stages, show them the proper forms they need for their specific application and make the applicant feel as though you are right there with them when completing the application. Every process will be longer or shorter depending on how they answer certain questions (which might trigger more questions to be shown, or not) depending on the products they are selecting and what you require for every thing you offer.
You can also use conditional logic to present only the products you offer that will be relevant and meaningful to your applicants. This could net you more products purchased, but it also shows your applicants that you care about them and are attuned to their interests and needs. It also shows them that the information they are providing you nets them useful information and suggestions about products they might enjoy, which will make them feel as if your company, and not just your application, is with them every step of the way.
Using this type of logic for your registration process will also cut down on the admin time you spend guiding people individually to what forms they need to complete, calculating their balance and communicating due dates, etc. The online account dashboard created by a registration software will allow them to see what products they’ve chosen, any outstanding forms for those specific products and the balance of all of those products which means less phone calls and emails to you since the answer to their questions are right there!
All this existed in Regpack long ago, but we added 127 features in the system that make this even more streamlined, even more seamless, and even more powerful. Should you care about these features? No! You should care that the process is seamless, individualized and nets you more completed applications which is exactly what it does!
3. Online payments rock for users and for admins.
In Regpack, 85% of all registration processes have a payments connected to them. This means that people are registering or applying for something they need to pay for in order to get the service. This includes events, camps, seminars, classes, sport events and a lot lot more. The payment is your ultimate goal (if you are taking payments) since that is the true approval that the applicant is going to take your service. Turning payments to a seamless and easy process that is totally integrated into the regular registration process has netted our clients more than $100M in payments this year. AMAZING!!!
An integrated payments system and online payments take your already streamlined and personalized process a step further and offers even more ease and clarity for our applicants. Online payments are the fastest growing method of payment, even beating cash as the preferred method for consumers and there’s a reason! While paper checks and cold hard cash were the currency of the 20th century, the 21st century is all about the credit card. Credit cards and online transfers are safer, faster and always available.
Online payments allow you to get your money faster, it’s better for your clients, it streamlines your accounting, can prevent fraud and mailing or accounting errors, and allows you to be ‘open for business’ 24/7, not just when you’re in the office.
While the cost to process payments online is more than traditional payment processing, the time and money you save in the long run far outweighs the cost to offer this service.
4. Satisfied applicants starts with excellent communication.
Registration might be a bureaucratic process that is needed in order to get the service, BUT people are the ones that are doing the process and therefore how you communicate with them will determine how happy they are with your service. “Just communicating” just doesn’t cut it anymore. Your communication needs to be amazing! It needs to be personalized, short and to the point and more than anything it needs to come just in the right time. Communication is not only about sending emails, it is about the information you give the applicant during the process, notifying them what is going on at important events in the registration process and giving them the methods and tools to complete the application as quickly as possible.
How do you create all this without spending hours and hours in your inbox? You automate your communication!. A customized email communication solution ensures that every applicant gets an email with information only relevant and pertinent to them, populated with their specific status (which forms they need to complete, how much money they owe and links to their individual dashboard, etc). These emails would replace ‘bulk emails’ that call for completing your application and paying by this date, but not offering the individual reader their exact status – outstanding forms and payments, if any.
You might ask, well I get that mass emails can cause confusion that ends with me responding individually to everyone, but what is the alternative other than sending an individual email to everyone in the first place which is even MORE time consuming? What can I do to make my communication more effective and at the same time save me time? The answer is creating a comprehensive and individualized online registration process that allows you to incorporate effective communication techniques.
The goal in having personalized, target specific emails to your applicants is to make them feel supported throughout the registration process and let’s be honest, to make them feel special. While ineffective communication includes getting emails from every single applicant multiple times asking clarification questions, the hope is that through these timed and triggered reminders (that are automated through your registration software!) you won’t have to chase down applicants for the things you need at the last minute.
You will of course always have applicants who respond to your mass emails just to say “Thanks” or “I’ll send this in today!”. By taking a few seconds to respond with a simple “No problem!” or “Can’t wait to meet you in a few weeks!” you are letting them know there is a real person behind the system who cares about them and you are spending way less time emailing many more applicants when the right and updated information is getting to them, without much active work on your end!
In 2014 we added 186 features to Regpack’s communication tools in order to enable all the above. Again, we have made them just more seamless and streamlined for our clients. In essence we have made improvements in order to make sure that Regpack can solve the problems they have.
5. Automation actually enables you to connect more, not less!
Regpack has more than 3,000 organizations that use the software. These organizations claim we have saved them at least 60 hours a month, which means we’re saving the world more than 180,000 work hours a month. We’re really proud of that, and of our contribution to helping people enjoy more free time doing things only humans can do (like think!). The majority of this is done through automation of the online registration process. These 180,000 work hours a month are used to communicate more with clients, develop better offerings, go on vacation and be with one’s kids. Automation just allows us to connect more on so many levels: with our clients, our peers, our families, and our community.
Unfortunately, many companies truly believe that anything automated means less personal contact and connection with their clients. Companies really believe (and you might too) that by automating aspects of their business they are essentially killing what they’ve worked hard to build. 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 human contact with your clients. We are just eliminating the times when there is no need for direct human contact and automating those aspects of your work flow. 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’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
By eliminating 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. Spend your free time with an automated registration software doing the work for you on tasks that increase real connections with your clients and furthering the mission of your organization. Registration is important – it’s how you make money and grow your business, but there are other things you want to be doing too! Why let menial admin tasks take up valuable time when you don’t have to!
Using an easy to use and professional automated registration software 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 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.
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. Automating your registration 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.
It has been an amazing year for Regpack and for our clients. We have registered 1,236,743 applicants this year for 3,000+ organizations that use Regpack. We have focused on solutions rather than features and in order to do that we have added 531 new features into Regpack this year (look out next week for another post about all our new ‘features’ in detail!). We have saved the world about 180,000 work hours a month which means that we have added 90,000 days for people to communicate with one another (that’s 246 years just this year!!!). We have learned that automation is an amazing tool when used correctly. We have taken great steps in making registration seamless and allowed people to truly “just get over with it” and get to enjoying the service they actually want.
We learned a lot and hope that we are contributing to the world in a good way. Here is for an even better year ahead and to all the new organizations that will teach us so much about their needs in the year to come (and the solutions we will come up with to help them out)!
Thanks for reading 🙂