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?

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