Something new has been happening in the commercial sector. Leading organizations have woken up to the importance of the customer experience, and how strategically important it is. As a result, new tools have been developed to help organizations better understand and manage the customer experience.
These tools require companies to look at what their organization does from a different standpoint. They have learned to look from outside-in rather than inside-out. They have moved from being organization-centric to become more customer-centric. They have found a better balance between meeting the needs of the customer and the needs of the organization.
Why does all this matter to membership-based organizations?
The reason is simple. Today, members and prospective members arrive with different expectations about what they will encounter from service providers of every kind, including their membership organizations. These expectations are based in large part on their experiences with commercial sector companies. It’s time for membership organizations to make the necessary changes to catch up with what has produced productive and profitable customer relationships for these companies.
In learning to view membership from the member’s perspective, you’ll become a more member-centric organization.
We believe this change holds the key to the future growth and sustainability of membership organizations worldwide.With much of the real value of membership being delivered through the
intangible experiences of membership, the stakes for associations have never been higher, and the opportunities have never been greater.
So, what’s new about this book?
There are many books that deal with membership recruitment and retention in the traditional sense of how to get prospects to join, and how to keep members once you get them. In this book, we’ll show you how to approach these membership tasks and challenges in a more contemporary, yet highly practical way. The core of this book focuses on three things—a concept, a tool, and an insight. These merge together to deliver a powerful step in the evolution of membership:
1. The underlying focus on the Membership Experience.
This concept needs to be revisited and better understood, defined, managed, measured, and even engineered.
The term has been referred to in a generic sense for a while. But the membership experience can no longer be thought of as some subjective or intuitive feeling about member satisfaction, or a compilation of customer service platitudes. And it is too important to be left for each individual or leader in an organization to determine what experience is the one they should deliver for members.
Early on in the book (Chapter 2) we guide you through developing a Member Experience Statement. This is a great step in raising awareness of the importance of the membership experience, defining what you want this to be for members, and ensuring consistency in its delivery.
2. The MembershipMapping™ templates.
The second part of this book will probably be the newest concept to most readers. We outline the tools that will help you capture the current membership experience and help you manage it.
We call these the MembershipMapping templates. These templates are journey maps. They literally chart the key journeys members take throughout their relationship with the organization, and enable you to see the experiences as a whole and consolidate your intelligence, starting from the journey into membership, and continuing through the critical first year (and beyond). They enable you to capture what happens, and isolate and address the key touchpoints and experiences that destroy value and need attention.
MembershipMapping is a way to gather and synthesize everything we know about members into a coherent, consistent, and measurable system that looks at everything from an outside-in perspective. These templates will help you rethink and redesign member recruitment and retention to result in a member-centric organization and an improved membership experience.
The templates can also be customized for different types of members. This brings new levels of understanding about members. Later in the book, we introduce the new concept of using Value Groups as a great way to customize your maps.
What has not existed before this book is a body of work which focuses on how customer journey mapping can be developed and used by membership organizations.
3. The focus on Effort.
The third unique part of this book is its focus on an insight we feel has become one of the most important factors in the membership experience—the effort factor.
An organization’s ability to attract, engage, and renew members is tremendously influenced by the effort factor. The time and effort required to become a member, participate in programs and services, connect with the organization, and deal with communications and administrative details has become a growing source of dissatisfaction among members.With dissatisfaction leading to disloyalty, organizations need to do a better job of identifying these irritants among members and prospects and have a specific plan of action to reduce them.
The MembershipMapping templates have been designed to help you capture these areas of effort and to reduce them wherever possible.
One of the keys to managing this factor is deciding how to measure the impact of your efforts. We have provided you with some options on how to do this in your organization, including a metric we introduce to the association community in this book, called the Member Effort Score.
“Managing experiences, mapping the journeys, and focusing on effort are the three core themes and takeaways that emerge through this book.” Froggatt & Levin
We cover each of these three new aspects in its own part of the book, taking you through the natural progression necessary to reach a point where you truly are managing the membership experience.
We can’t emphasize enough that the member experience needs to be viewed, as clearly as possible, from the member’s perspective. This means that you will have to involve your members in the gathering of information and insights, and in determining the appropriate measurement criteria for your efforts. We give you some suggestions on how to do that in this book, too.
Be sure your efforts are institutionalized. You need to make sure this doesn’t become an exercise you go through once and then go back to doing things as normal. You have to get total support and buy-in from your major stakeholders (staff and leaders).
You also have to include your technical staff in everything.
Getting your systems people to understand member-centric management is critical to making it happen, as they are involved in almost every aspect of it. This commitment to technology will not only be needed to deliver the right experiences to the right groups, it will also provide the focal points for measuring the success of your efforts. It is by using these measurements that you make necessary program evaluations and adjustments, and these measurements also assure continuing adherence to your commitment to improve.
How member-centric are you right now?
Here are some questions to get you thinking about how member-centric your organization is.
At your next senior staff meeting, ask people to write down their answers to the following questions:
1. Define the ‘membership experience,’ i.e. what is the membership experience we are trying to deliver?
2. Are there gaps between:
- What we believe the membership experience is,
- The experience that members say they currently have, and
- The experience members ideally want from us?
3. How much value can we get from changing the membership experience?
4. What are the criteria we use to measure the membership experience?
5. Describe a typical day in the life of a member.
6. How effortless are we to do business with?
7. What percentage of our members would strongly recommend membership to a colleague or peer?
8. On a scale of 1 to 10, with ‘1’ being not at all and ‘10’ being extremely, how member- centric are we?
If there are many blank faces, requests to repeat a question, or many different views, then this book is definitely for your organization!