July 26, 2016

Listen to the Voices of Your Members

Listen to the Voices of Your Members

It’s no secret that members are what keep the lights on for associations. These individuals actively pay for memberships, attend events and look forward to receiving information from your organization. From the looks of it, it appears members do a lot for associations: What do associations do for them? If associations don’t actively listen to the voices of members, then they aren’t doing much. For an association to provide members with the best membership experience possible, it must keep the lines of communication open. Luckily for you, members are always talking - you just have to know when to listen.

Why does listening to members matter? It shows them that their membership experience is just as important to you, as it is to them.

What Makes Members Talk

Nothing in this world is perfect, and that includes associations. Often times, members find themselves dissatisfied with certain aspects of their experience. Whether it’s outdated registration processes, an antiquated AMS or inefficient dues billing, members will always find something that can be improved. If a member is truly engaged, chances are that they will speak up. Rather than wading in the dissatisfaction, these members will want to see improvement so that they can genuinely enjoy their memberships.

Members often address concerns, ask questions or post recommendations in hopes that association professionals will take their preferences into account. They normally address:

  • Event feedback
  • Concerns/questions over dues & benefit structures
  • Proposed additional benefits
  • Housekeeping items

How They Talk

This form of member communication can be formal or informal, depending on the social media platforms the association uses. Members utilize different communication methods to express concerns, ask questions and offer recommendations.

Informal

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram
  • Online community forum

Social media platforms allow associations to gauge their members thoughts in real-time. Additionally, associations have the opportunity to respond to their feedback quickly.

Formal

  • Association email
  • Association poll
  • Association survey
  • Association complaint form

If your association offers various surveys or polls to understand the concerns and needs of your members, it’s important to not only listen, but take action. Complaint forms allow members to seek resolutions through a formal process. This is a safe place for members to address any issues they may be having.

How You Can Talk Back

Social media allows associations and members to speak directly and in real time. If a member posts on a social media platform, it’s imperative for the association to reply. This reassures members that their needs are being addressed, while showing members that the association is proficient with social media. Whether it’s replying to a tweet, Liking a Facebook comment or sending a direct message, associations must comply with this form of communication. Association professionals should designate a social media advocate to answer these posts directly to ensure each message is addressed.

If a member emails your association directly, it’s critical for a staff member to ensure these individuals that they will not be ignored. Nobody likes the feeling of aimlessly sending an email into cyberspace - calm their fears by letting them know you will address their concerns.

Actions Speak Louder than Words

I know this is an oldschool saying, but it holds weight in this situation. What is the point of members communicating with an association if it doesn’t listen? For associations to give members the best membership experience: It will need to adjust its practices to adhere to its members. If a member requests specific breakout sessions at a conference, it may be time to rethink your event. Chances are, more than one member feels the same way. Association professionals will need to take into account what their members are saying. By implementing the suggestions of your members - you will see happier and more engaged members.

Have you ever had a conversation with someone and felt like you were talking to a wall? Don’t make your members feel that pain. Advanced technology has made it easier for members to directly communicate with their associations: And that’s a good thing! Associations now have a crystal ball into the eyes of their members.

To learn more about engaging members, take a look at our white paper, Tracking Membership Engagement.