Data: Use It, Don’t Lose It

December 21, 2011
Filed under: Evaluations,Event Planning,Marketing,Registrations,Surveys — Tags: , , — @ 10:48 am

One of the wonders of the Internet is the amount of marketing data available and the extrapolations that can be made using such data. Search engine optimization (SEO) software, for instance, can tell you who visited your site, how long they stayed, what pages they visited, what search keywords might have brought them and what offers they clicked.  Marketers can take that data and create targeted tools such as Google adwords, special landing pages, e-mails and customer-specific offers.

Your organization may not deploy these tools for a number of sound reasons. However, if you use ABC Signup’s online registration software, you might be surprised about what tools you do have to collect and deploy data to embark on your own optimization journeys.

Start with your e-mail invitation to an event or program.

When did recipients respond? Immediately after receiving the e-mail, a few days after it was sent, after a reminder was sent, or just prior to the event? A quick look at this data might help you improve the timing of your communications.

Next, review the content of that initial e-mail over the course of several events. Is there one message or offer that generates a higher response rate than another? If so, double-down on that messaging.

Also, examine your responses and registrations for those new individuals signing up. Did they come from an expanded mailing list, did someone forward the original invitation e-mail to them, or did the new attendee find it on their own via your website? This intel will provide insights into ways you can grow your program or event’s attendance, if that is one of your goals.

Take a similar look at your financial reporting to determine who is paying when, and whether you can adjust the timing and content of payment reminder notices to attain payment more efficiently.

Finally, don’t forget ABC Signup’s survey/evaluation tools. This is your way to find out what worked and what didn’t with your program or event. We should always be seeking ways to improve the product, and there is no better guide for doing so than your customers.

As always, feel free to comment below with your ideas for leveraging data to improve your programs or events.

Any Rules for Dealing with Unruly Customers?

December 12, 2011
Filed under: customer service — Tags: — @ 10:01 am

Actor Alec Baldwin recently joined the not-so-exclusive club of celebrities kicked off an airplane (pre-flight, of course). His offense – refusing to turn off his cell phone while playing Words with Friends (exacerbated by an alleged tantrum) – falls in the Josh Duhamel category but well short of a Gerard Depardieu or Peter Buck transgression.

While celebrity status isn’t a prerequisite for bad customers, often bad customers achieve celebrity status – at least within your organization. Sometimes, the right approach with difficult customers can keep them on board and under the radar.

Typically, the goal with any customer conflict is to find a “win-win” solution or anything short of shoving them out the door. The rationale is that very few organizations can afford to dump their less-than-perfect customers in a manner that creates an often vocal antagonist.

picture of businessman pointing to money coming out of his earSo how do you effectively deal with your difficult customers, and when does the extra effort become counter-productive?

A Forbes article suggests ways to avoid them in the first place. But, as you began reading this, many of you already pictured some of your existing customers. You only wish you could avoid them.

The “customer is always right” school of thought advises you to never argue, be patient and professional, listen to the customer, ask what can make the situation right and explain what you can do. Empathize but don’t over apologize, and know your policy but don’t quote your policy. The goal in dealing with a difficult customer is to find an amenable resolution that, in the short term, makes them less difficult. And remember, sometimes just the labeling of customers as “difficult” can influence how you treat them and make matters worse.

Of course, from our experience as customers and in dealing with customers, we all understand that in reality, the customer isn’t always right. That fact alone makes all of the pointers in the paragraph above feel perhaps too “turn the other cheekish.” If you feel you’ve done everything you can to no avail – and you’ve reached the “boot them off the plane” moment – pull out your calculator.

It might be in your best interest to just fire your bad customers, as explained in this Inc. Magazine article. But, as BusinessWeek points out, be sure to do the math first. Determine how much time and money a bad client is costing you, and weigh that against the value they bring plus the high cost of customer acquisition versus retention.

At ABC Signup, we are fortunate to have entirely awesome customers of our online registration software, so everything we know on the subject is second-hand. That said, we welcome tips on dealing with difficult customers – your advice could prove helpful for fellow ABC Signup users. Just submit your thoughts or techniques in the comments section below.

That’s not just a pretty red bow on ABC Signup

December 8, 2011
Filed under: Event Planning,Registrations — Tags: , — @ 9:16 am

The ABC Signup you “unwrap” over the holidays, per company tradition, again outshines the model you opened a year ago. It’s not just bells and whistles, either. More than two dozen functionality improvements and an easier user interface for page theme creation now adorn the new and improved, 2011 ABC Signup.

Give credit to the company’s development elves, who toil year-around to make the software do everything you need and more.

image of online registration software with red bow“We developed our core product eight years ago based upon customer feedback, and it has evolved since to reflect the real-time registration management needs of their programs and events,” said Todd Chandler, president of ABC Signup. “We’ve stayed true to our mission of doing just about whatever it takes to provide value to our customers.”

The latest upgrade, available this month, presents customers a task-oriented menu making it easier to navigate pages being created with themes, as well as new tools that simplify aspects of theme setup, such as matching the user’s website color scheme and design. Customers will find these “look and feel” improvements where they always edited themes, at Setup (top bar) > Standard Tab > Page Themes.

These new features complement a flurry of improvements made over the course of the year, including the following:

  • A new text editor option
  • The ability to customize the registration list view
  • Caps on wait lists
  • Customizable CE (continuing education) start dates
  • QR (quick response) codes for events and calendars/listings
  • Enhanced attendance certificate re-send capabilities
  • Bar graphs and pie charts for registration and evaluation responses
  • Increased multi-date event functionality
  • Improved archiving
  • More discount code features
  • European date formatting
  • Registration blocking capabilities for overlapping events
  • New invitation list options
  • A variety of reporting features

You, our customers, get credit for most of these upgrades.

“First and foremost, we work our customers’ ‘wish list’ when it comes to software upgrades, targeting projects that provide the most benefit to our users,” said Chandler. “But, we also add our own unique features, and do our best to keep pace with industry trends.”

So, what’s in store for next year? You tell us. While we’ve got some exciting developments in the works, we know that many of our best ideas come from you. What do you want for 2012?

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