Customer vs. staff
In a properly designed AMS, when the customer goes online to your website to do business with you (e.g., join, renew, register for an event, buy a product), the website is interacting directly with the AMS. In other words, any data changes being made by the customer are going directly to the database with no staff intervention required. All modern AMSes work this way.
Because the database is being used by both staff and customers, there is an inherent tension for system design. On the one hand, the customer needs a very simple interface that allows her to quickly and easily take care of the business at hand. On the other hand, staff needs to have complete and total access to all data to manage any type of scenario that arises.
One trap that many associations fall into is trying to design the customer interface to manage as many scenarios (exceptions) as possible. This is a mistake. The customer interface should manage the most common interactions that occur and should make that process as efficient and simple ("idiot-proof") as possible. Anything that is exceptional should be managed by staff.
This is a great place to apply the 80/20 rule. Your customer interface should be able to manage 80% of the interactions and the remaining 20% is managed with staff assistance.
So look at your customer interface and ask yourself: Is it fast and easy to use? Have we tried to accommodate too many exceptions? Make the process for the customer as easy as possible and let staff manage all the hard stuff!
Wes's Wednesday Wisdom Archives
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