What should we be measuring? The value members perceive they get from the association or their satisfaction in the association? This question was posed by an association executive during a webinar on member research that I recently gave to 140 attendees. An aside: allowing webinar attendees to chat with the organizer, presenter AND each other is a bit more difficult but it adds a lot of value to the chat, I highly recommend it. At the time I really felt like I muffed the answer. On the spot, I shared my gut reaction. I’d favor questions around value.
Having had a chance to think about that question some more I think the answer is still right and here’s why. This may be my interpretation or semantics but, value seems more dynamic, “the value is GREAT!” or the “value is terrible”. Where satisfaction seems far more sanitized. “I’m satisfied” sounds ho-hum, even “I’m very satisfied” sounds bland. If someone said “I’m satisfied” about my work, I’d worry, I want them to say, “wow! This is good stuff!”
Our members get value from different offerings the association has at different times in their career. Our members may get value from benefits or from experiences or from ideas or conversations. Value is fluid. And members tend to get more value the more involved they are. If we were to field a survey to the membership a new member may say I’m satisfied and a long time engaged member may also say I’m satisfied. But those two answers do not mean the same thing.
Looking at the definition of value I see it means: importance, worth or usefulness, while satisfaction is about fulfilling someone’s wishes, expectations or needs. In light of this, I still favor value because we can deliver member’s value by providing them something they don’t even know they need but upon learning about it they realize they totally do need it. While satisfying our members is delivering something to them that they expect. I’d rather have the freedom of providing value than being required to satisfy.