Why do you exist? Why does any membership body exist? You exist to serve your members. Given this fact – how do you meet the needs of your members to ensure you are still relevant… and are you relevant in this new world – this world where covid still lurks? The world is changing, it is changing for all of us, each business, each membership organisation, each individual. Given the changes are happening – as a membership organisation have you got a clear understanding of what your members need or want? Do you listen to what your members say they want and need? Have you asked them?
So much of the membership experience has had human engagement at his heart since their inception; from events, training to 121 meetings between members. But of course, over the last 18 months, this has not been possible, so we have turned to digital to help us navigate our world. The opportunities to reach members and potential members may have grown in some ways; but the way members are engaging with their organisations has changed. As a membership organisation, are you enabling your members to embrace and engage with your organisation and other members in this new way, with humanity still at the core of what you do? Keeping this in mind, how can you ensure you are meeting the needs of your members?
I believe, the biggest risk to membership organisations is the loss of human engagement, as so much goes online. The key to a successful membership organisation is to ensure there is a proactive focus on the human side of the membership organisation – and look for how to achieve human engagement in every way possible. A good start is to speak (and listen) to members directly to understand their needs.
My purpose is to bring humanity back into business and a core part of the work I do, is interviewing my client’s members (or customers) to find out what is working well and perhaps not so well, with the goal of turning members into advocates. By being an impartial ‘listener’ people get a chance to honestly feedback their feelings of their membership organisation as well as suggestions for improvements; which is so much more in depth than an online form can ever be.
Once I’ve spoken to a selection of members, I then feedback and give recommendations. This gives the member organisation insight to help them to make improvements for their members, engage with them better, in order to serve them in the best, in the most human way possible. With the goal that members get the services they want and need to help them make their work that much more effective. I have been compared to a marriage counsellor for businesses…. and have found out all sorts of golden nuggets from members that have helped organisations to improve and grow off the back of member insight. Some of the intelligence that has come out of interviewing has enabled memberships organisations and businesses to:
- Improve communications with their members
- Identify new services/products that the members are often asking for repeatedly
- Improve and reward teams internally
- Build better processes
- Identify at risk members and develop plans to improve relationships ensuring better member retention
- Open up conversations between organisations and their members
- Focus their marketing and new member engagement better
- Create testimonials & case studies to help attract new members
Ultimately, the interviews have improved member relationships, retention, loyalty and it’s built a huge amount of trust between organisations and their members, which of course leads to a better membership with an increase in revenue; and a greater number of member advocates who are being serviced so much better.
So, to embrace this new world we live in my recommendations would be to:
- Take the time to listen to your members – be intentional and proactive in engaging with them,
- Ask them what they want and what they believe your organisation could do more of or better,
- and remember, when you start to see patterns in the feedback, make sure you not only act upon the suggestions,
- but tell your members what you are doing and how important their feedback is… be accountable to your members.
By focussing on your members in a proactive, intentional and human way, and asking them how you can serve them better and listening to them – you will be sure to turn them into advocates.
Listen Image by: Nick Fewings.