Some organizations act like monopolies. They inconvenience their customers greatly to suit the perceived needs of their business. The doctor’s office that makes patients wait for two hours. Or the internet provider that makes it difficult and expensive to disconnect service. This type of behavior may show up in the power company or the wireless provider. Think of any interaction with a company where you had to sort through a mountain of bureaucracy to get to a resolution. These organizations are self-centered.
Now consider the other end of the spectrum. The company that makes it so easy to interact with them it is almost a joy — Amazon with its one-click ordering. Zappos offers free returns. Stress-free travel with Southwest. These organizations are customer-centered. Somewhere along the way each of these companies took the time to understand a problem their customers were having and offered a solution that made them feel just a little bit safer, or a little bit less inconvenienced.
Self-centered or member-centered, association executives have a choice. Put on your member hat, and you might find an assortment of little unintentional barriers facing your members in many of the interactions they have with the association. You may see little quirks of the association’s systems, rules enacted because of past infractions, or old processes that no longer serve members. Everytime you identify and omit one of these barriers you move the association closer to the member-centered side of the spectrum.