Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Association Chat: Focusing on Customers and Members

Whether you call them customers or members, it is important to remember that the membership experience is a critical piece of an association professional's responsibility. We're going to spend an hour discussing how we can better serve our members and our organizations on the March 31, 2015 edition of Association Chat. How can we bring delight to our members? We will talk all about it and more during the chat.

Here are the questions I'll ask this week:

1. What is the value your org offers members? Why should they join?

2. How does the pricing of your offerings either encourage or discourage membership?

3. How does your organization solve problems for its members?

4. Has your membership changed much in the last 10 years? If so, in what ways?

5. How does the value you place on staff relate to the value placed on membership? Does it?

6. What are the biggest membership problems facing your org today?

7. What are your member recruiting strategies?

8. What are your member onboarding tactics?

9. How do you bring delight to your members?

10. How do you capture member testimonials to better share stories of success?

For a great resource on association membership, please check out The Art of Membership: How to Attract, Retain, and Cement Member Loyalty by Sheri Jacobs.

Don't forget! To participate in the weekly Association Chat, tune into Twitter on Tuesdays at 2 pm EST following the hashtag #assnchat. Want an easier chat experience? Try following along at http://nurph.com/assnchat.

Next week's chat: Promoting Your Association


You can read Kait Solomon's Storify of the chat here:

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Association Chat: The Digital Organization

I've been reading an excellent book by Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant, When Millennials Take Over, that identifies four capacities for the future of business: Digital, Clear, Fluid, and Fast. The March 24, 2015 edition of Association Chat will focus on The Digital Organization - inspired by this great book. Is your association a digital organization? We'll discuss during today's chat.

Here are the questions I'll be asking this week:

  1. How has technology allowed your org to provide a more personalized focus on the customer or member?
  2. How has technology opened up new opportunities for more effective marketing, customer service, and even management?
  3. Does your organization focus on always improving? How does your org support innovation?
  4. Does your organization use technology to better communicate internally? How? What tools do you use, both analog & digital?
  5. How does your org use social media to improve customer service? If it doesn't, why not?
  6. How does your org's focus on the customer compare to its focus on the employee? How is it similar? How is it not?
  7. In your role, how would you choose to next invest in technology for your organization?
  8. Do employees have room to experiment in your organization? If so, please share how. If not, how might it work for your org?
  9. What role does collaboration play in a digital organization?
  10. What role does HR play for organizational reinvention based on a digital mindset?
Everyone is welcome to participate in Association Chat on Tuesdays at 2 pm ET/11 am PT. An easy way to follow along is to check out http://nurph.com/assnchat which automatically follows #assnchat for you. 

Next week's chat: Focusing on Customers and Members


UPDATE: For a recap of Association Chat: The Digital Organization, check out Kait Solomon's Storify capturing tweets from the chat.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Challenges with Member Experience Facing Associations

What questions do you wish you could answer over again?

Today I had the pleasure of talking with Todd Greer of Synervision - The Leadership Foundation for their weekly interview series. As usual, as soon as the interview wrapped, I immediately felt remorse for what was left unsaid. I have no right to claim that my brain is failing me, but sometimes I swear I am failing my brain.

One of the big questions Todd asked me was about the challenges facing organizations today; especially as it pertains to experience for their customers or members. I can't even remember what over-excited words spilled from my lips, but I know I felt like I had somehow missed out on sharing what I wanted to say. Here's what I'd say if I had the chance all over again.

What Challenges Are Facing Associations As It Pertains to Customer Experience?

1. Understanding Data

I think one big challenge organizations face in building the right member experience is in figuring out how to use the data associations already have.  Most organizations are obese with data, but there is often a disconnect in how to use that information to improve the experience of the member.

2. Missing Critical Touchpoints 

Associations might say, "We know our audiences…we have professionals, students, and institutions. We've got this covered." But how are those organizations creating meaningful experiences that create demand when someone, perhaps a non-member, does something like buying a book from them? Is a relationship created, or is it merely a financial exchange? What does that experience feel like to the customer? 

One association I talked with recently is looking at changing their membership model. They have a nice diagram and explanation for the different audiences they are looking to engage with, but the most important part – creating the onramps to the organization for these audiences – the connection and interaction points, the touchpoints, for how to better engage them all need to be identified and then built upon. My hope is that that organization will put as much time and effort into getting those experiences right as they have their business diagrams.

3. Cultural Shifts 

Look at the way our society has changed with technology advances over the past 10 years. I could focus on social media only, but that is a small part of the bigger picture. It's a digital society that has brought with it new shifts in the way we look at simple things like ownership. We now live with the realities of a sharing economy and collaborative consumption. People now have the ability to share their own possessions and activities– their homes, their cars, their books, their drives, their clothes, even their pets – with strangers in exchange for money or as a bartering type of experience and this is creating a new economy that tax laws and the government haven’t caught up with yet. 

In the interview I actually went a little crazy talking about the sharing economy (couldn't help it), but I asked how associations are looking at this kind of thing. What if a member could trade their membership with someone from a similar or competitive association? Why couldn’t they? Why shouldn’t they? I think people are afraid of uncertainty. To me, asking questions like that should be a requirement for association professionals. That's right. I'm for hire.


What kind of questions do you wish you could have a second shot at answering? How do you feel about the challenges I listed? What other challenges can you think of?