Three years ago a membership manager wrote a warm welcome letter for all new members to receive. This letter explained the benefits of being a member and how to get involved. After a bit of deliberation, the staff felt the letter would be more effective if the Executive Director signed it. About four months ago, the membership manager decided to forgo the cost of the mailed letter and converted the letter to an email. Since the letter came from the Executive Director she explored if the CMS could also send it from his email, and it could! She updated the Executive Director about the change, and he seemed fine with it.
Now every once in a while, a seemingly inappropriate email from a new member trickles into the Executive Director’s email box. In these emails, new members are asking to get more involved, or are asking for their login credentials, or are asking for a resource the association does not even have. Since the emails come to him, he feels like he should respond but with managing the staff, and board, and other high-profile projects, there is never time. The handful of emails filter to the bottom of his inbox and are forgotten.
In the research, members indicate that when new members reach out and never receive a response, they often make the decision not to engage again which prompts the decision not to renew.
The letter never invited response, and so it was safe to have it come from the executive director. But email invites a response. Members can just hit reply. When the executive director is too busy to respond, the email needs to come from someone who can.
It is easy to see how association processes can break over time. Why not try a process audit? List and review every critical process, especially those that interface with members. Has there been any member feedback? What could be going wrong? Has the process improved?
Conducting a regularly scheduled process audit can help close gaps in member experience, gaps that we accidentally create over time.