Should your customers be able to cancel online?

Working with a client recently, I was surprised to learn that the association allows individuals who are currently registered for an upcoming event to cancel online. That is, the customer could go online, login, find their meeting registration, and cancel the meeting registration.

Their process is then to review the cancellation and refund the registration fee minus a standard processing fee.

In the past, I’ve always told my clients not to allow any cancellations online. If someone wants to cancel their registration, make them call in, help them understand what the cancellation fee is (if there is one), and ask them if you can keep their payment “on credit” to be used later. All of this is to do what we can to keep their money.

But as I thought more about it, it struck me that perhaps we SHOULD allow attendees to cancel online, even to the point of automating the cancellation process, such that the cancellation occurs with a proper deduction for the cancellation fee, and the registration fee is refunded to the credit card it was purchased on. No staff involvement required. It seems to me this is much more customer-focused.

What do you think? Should we allow the entire cancellation process to happen online with no staff intervention? Or should we make the customer jump through a few hoops?

About Wes Trochlil

For over 30 years, Wes has worked in and with dozens of associations and membership organizations throughout the US, ranging in size from zero staff (all-volunteer) to over 700. In that time Wes has provided a range of consulting services, from general consulting on data management issues to full-scale, association-wide selection and implementation of association management systems.

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