Know your customer! That's the first rule of marketing and customer service. In youth sports, the "customer" most often is the parent or guardian of the player. Customers can also include coaches, teams from other areas, and the community members at large. However, the most important customer is the one paying the bill. Most often those payments are made through an online registration system. We hear from frustrated sports administrators and parents every day as we work to improve the online registration processes of youth sports associations across the country. Here are some of the most common complaints made by frustrated parents:
1) No lost password support. The #1 problem encountered by parents when they attempt to register is that they forgot their password. A well-designed system will have automatic password retrieval and reset features built into the process. Users should be able to directly resolve a lost or forgotten password themselves. Failing that, someone from your organization should be standing by during the heavy registration cycle to quickly respond to requests for help. Do not abandon your customers during their greatest time of need!
2) Too much focus on advertising. Registration sites clouded with advertising banners can be very frustrating to navigate and distract the user from the process of completing the registration. Advertising outside of the registration process is fine, but once in the registration window, the site should be clean and ad-free. Busy parents want to get in and get out, so help them by not clouding the registration process with ads.
3) Hidden add-on's. If a parent is paying for basketball registration, that's what they expect to get. Automatically signing up for a magazine subscription, which they later find is almost impossible to cancel, is a foul! There are many free registration systems on the market. They are free because they are heavily subsidized by advertising and hidden add-on's. If you, as the association director, want your organization to be viewed as a quality, customer-focused organization, then do not cram unwanted add-on's into the registration process. Your customers will gladly pay a modest premium for the ability to register in an environment free from ads, offers, and hidden fees.
4) Hidden registration links. The registration link on your website should be clear and conspicuous. As shown by the image below, a best practice is to call out registrations using a dialog box on the home page with a bright orange or green button. The link can also be placed in other areas. If registrations are open, and parents are being directed to your association website to register, the registration link should be immediately visible (preferably above the fold) on the home page.
5) Confusing process. An online registration process should follow a logical flow. Create an account, create or select participants, select the event or sport, answer a few pertinent questions, click to agree on terms, and then check out. Anything more will add to the frustration of the user. Structure your process so that the average person can complete the task in just 2-3 minutes.
If your parents or customers are complaining about your registration process, we encourage you to contact Engage Sports see a live demo of how easy it can be to offer a customer-friendly registration process.