Personal Touch: How Much do Your Members Matter?
Ad campaigns about customer service are all the rage right now. Who doesn’t love “Jake from State Farm”, the khaki-wearing night shift worker turned meme? Or what about Discover and their commercials about how they treat you like you treat you. Because “I don’t have time for machines,” according to one Discover customer.
These ads may be overplayed, but the premise remains true; real, personal touch customer service is needed wherever possible and your organization will benefit from it. And personal touch doesn’t only belong on social or in newsletters, it can be added anywhere—even into a process as typically impersonal as billing.
I’ve been in my membership role for the National Association of Neonatal Nurses (NANN) for almost two years and my outreach to members has evolved, specifically in regards to renewals. At first, our only renewal touchpoints were invoices. After attending a talk led by Mark Levin, CAE CSP last winter, I walked away with the understanding that if our only communication to members is to collect more money from them, we have a problem. He was right. Associations need nurture touchpoints throughout the invoice process to members to share what’s happening in the organization, offer answers questions, and most importantly, to show they are truly valued.
NANN’s transition to a more personal renewal process began with automated messages to expiring members reminding them to renew, and a survey to members who had just expired asking them their thoughts on membership. The messages were fairly standard, and we would receive 1-2 survey responses per month. After a few months, we decided to take it a step further and email recently dropped members from a personal email to simply ask them their thoughts on NANN membership. The results were staggering, going from a few survey responses to over 30 email replies, with varying thoughts:
“I honestly just forgot to renew my membership. I will be doing that soon! I love being a member and hope to take part of future conferences. Thank you for reaching out to me. Another reason why this organization is just phenomenal.”
“Honestly I didn't renew because the hospital wasn't paying the membership anymore.”
“Thanks for reaching out. Time just got away and I forgot to renew but I am interested in doing so. Please advise.”
“I have always valued my membership. I am recently retired and plan to spend my money on quilting.”
"Thanks for checking in with me! I honestly financially cannot renew at this time. Hopefully in the future I will be able to once again!”
“I just forgot to renew. I will try to renew this week. I love NANN and my chapter!”
While our intention was to gently nudge expired members while also collecting the reasons behind the expirations, a trend also developed; most of these members didn’t realize they lapsed. Our organization sends multiple invoices, email reminders, and retention calls, but a single personal email was the trigger that showed them what they were missing. And we received insightful feedback!
It’s important to reach out to your members consistently, but even more crucial to do it personally. Members are the lifeblood of the association and taking extra time out of the day to reach out and respond makes the difference between a renewed member and lapsed member. While the process may seem time consuming, it only takes about an hour per month. Take a look at your communications processes and see how you can add touchpoints that engage your members on a more personal level. We’re all busy, but nothing matters more than our members. Take the time to show them.
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