Observing customer behavior is the holy grail of consumer research but it does not work so well for most associations. Because we interact with our members outside of their normal work life we have to observe their behavior through the lens of data and that is where things get tricky.
We may think a long time member is a satisfied member when in reality they:
- may not have time to cancel their membership.
- view their membership as a way to support the organization that supported them years ago.
- fear they will be shamed by member friends if they cancel their membership.
We may think a new member is an association friend when in reality they:
- may have been signed up by their boss.
- really don’t know what to expect but it’s the company’s money – so what the heck?
- are hoping for the best but have not seen the value yet.
We may think a first time attendee will soon understand the value of the association when in reality they:
- liked the sessions but found it really difficult to meet people like them.
- didn’t know how to fully leverage the conference.
- ended up feeling smaller than they did pre-conference.
Over and over again, our observations and assumptions may not match up with reality. So let’s ask them how they feel, what they thought and what they are hoping for.