Utilizing Your Greatest Assets to Make Informed Decisions
As a new member of the team, I was anxious to get my hands on some member and customer information. However, creating a survey that asked the right questions, collected the right data, and implementing an action plan afterward was overwhelming; where was the best place to start?
The American Pain Society hadn’t conducted a needs assessment since 2013, and the data collected at that time was not followed by an implementation plan which meant the knowledge gained was not translated into practice. To avoid this happening again, we solicited help from our board members, who happen to also be APS Membership Committee (MC) co-chairs. Early buy-in from leadership was crucial to the success of the creation, implementation, analysis, and action plan for the needs assessment.
We hired AMC Consulting Services to guide us through the process and create a survey to send to our members, lapsed members, and customers. We started with a review committee made up of members to read through past needs assessments, identify themes, and brainstorm what we wanted to learn from our constituents now.
Time to Get to Work and Stay Out of the Weeds
We utilized our greatest assets – our rock star MC co-chairs – to lead the charge. They participated in all elements of the process from strategy and question creation to marketing and promotion – working as an extension of the team.
Together we drafted questions and set goals for the needs assessment. What kinds of questions could lead us to actionable data? Every detail was important, down to the language we used. We continued to ask why and only kept questions that aligned with our goals. If a question wasn’t going to lead us anywhere, we pitched it. At times, it was difficult to weigh our curiosity against the best practices of survey design.
Despite having two strong volunteers leading the charge, and AMC Consulting Services helping to ensure we were staying on track with our goals, we still felt we needed more input before we released the final survey. We wanted to make sure that the questions and language resonated with our audience. We sent a draft survey to our Early Career Advisory Group, Website Committee, and Membership Committee. We took their comments, and revised the survey to make it simpler. Asking another group of volunteers to get involved meant more people were part of the creation of the needs assessment. It was a vetting process among our most engaged members.
When time and resources are on the line it can be difficult to manage volunteers, but there was something about the energy behind what we were doing that allowed us to persevere after long meetings and countless revisions. The APS needs assessment team wanted to make sure we had an effective survey - a survey that would provide us with the right data to make informed decisions about new member benefits, education opportunities, products, and ultimately how APS can create value.
Call to Action + Incentives = High Response Rates
APS members love participating in surveys, but we knew we needed to add some incentives beyond ‘Share your Feedback!’ to increase our response rate with other groups. Participants who completed the survey and included their email address were entered in a drawing to receive complimentary registration to the annual meeting or one of two $75 VISA gift cards.
The survey was sent to 1440 current members, 1295 lapsed members, and 927 customers.
We closely watched the response rates increase. In addition to marketing messages, we sent personalized messages from the MC co-chairs encouraging members to participate, asked our Shared Interest Group Chairs to spread the word, and added it to the agenda of every committee call/email during the duration of the survey.
The efforts paid off. 18.4% (265) of members, 7.1% (92) of lapsed members, and 5.9% of customers responded.
They responded, now what?
After eight weeks of strategy, creation, and implementation, it was time for the analysis. Based on the response from the three segments, AMC Consulting Services provided us with 12 recommendations. Yes, 12 recommendations! Now we needed a group of volunteers to review the analysis and lead the charge to identify priorities and next steps. Stay tuned for part two in which we form a task force, and they build a case for three new work groups.
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