“When is my membership renewal date?” “How many educational credits do I need this year to maintain my designation?” “What are the benefits of my association membership?” If you work for a professional association, you probably have members asking these questions every day. How well you handle these situations impacts membership renewals and retention.
I have been on the boards of several associations. I have also trained association boards and office staff on customer service skills. Based upon that, here are 5 tips for a better member experience.
1. Member retention is critical
If your association has annual memberships, send the renewal notice to your members ahead of time, then follow up by phone to ensure renewal. When you speak with your members, answer their questions and emphasize the benefits of being part of a professional association. Another tip is to allow members to renew on the date they first joined. So, everyone’s renewal does not occur on the same day I.e. July 1st. Otherwise, office staff will be swamped with renewals on July 1 and will not be able to give their full attention to each member.
2. Add value at every interaction
Each time a member attends an association event or calls your office, add value to this interaction. Mention future educational events including workshops, webinars, podcasts or networking events. Make members aware of any affiliated discounts or benefits. For instance, some associations offer discounts on hotel fees, car rental prices or professional insurance to their members. If you educate people on the value of their membership, you will pre-empt the typical renewal question of, “Why should I renew? What do I get from it?”
3. Invest in a good CRM system and Unified Communications solution
Do not manage your association from an Excel spreadsheet. The flexibility of a good CRM system will pay off in better service to your members. It will help you keep track of your member's educational credits, upcoming event registrations, renewal dates, industry job postings, mentorship programs, etc. That equips your office team with each member’s history at their fingertips, making it easier to provide great customer service. There are excellent cloud-based CRM systems available at a reasonable cost. They are easy to use and expand as your membership grows.
Having a Unified Communications integrated with your CRM is crucial. The omnichannel approach enables you to provide seamless customer service, regardless of channel. It allows you to capture data from every phone call, email, live chat and SMS/text communication with members. You can also analyze the collected data for member trends, industry issues and potential areas for improvement. The more you know about members, the easier it is to retain them. There are outstanding cloud communications solutions available for any type of business. The easiest way to make the right choice is to consult with the experience solutions provider.
4. Conduct a member satisfaction survey
Big companies use surveys to discover customers likes and dislikes. Your association can use survey, as well. Find out what your members want and how well you are fulfilling their needs. Simple online tools such as Survey Monkey will help you design and roll out member surveys. So, you can better serve your members.
5. Train your customer service team or office staff on customer service skills
This will make a big difference to your members. Having a helpful personality is not enough. There are specific phrases to say - and skills to use - to ensure great customer service. Equip your team with these skills so, association members get the best value for their membership. Having run customer service workshops for a number of associations, I have found even half a day of staff training makes a big difference in their performance.
Use these tips to provide a great member experience. Help members learn and grow through your association!