Expectations can make or break an experience. When the experience over-exceeds our expectations, we are happy, thrilled even. When the experience under exceeds our expectations, we are disappointed.
Sometimes members have expectations that we helped form. When we say, “bring an RFP to the expo,” and they are looking for a new AMS, they expect to see one or a few AMS vendors that fit their needs.
Sometimes member’s expectations are formed implicitly. Say “networking” and some members will think of drinks, appetizers, and sweaty palms while other members will assume they will meet someone just like them doing what they are doing.
When we communicate we need to be aware that we are not overselling the experience and we need to add enough detail for members to understand what to really expect.
We can also use expectations to our advantage. Many association professionals worry that a new product will not measure up to the existing benefits. Carefully choose the phrases you use. “Beta,” or, “hey, we are trying a test, would you like to experiment with us,” is very different than, “check out the latest product launch.” Beta, test, trial, and experiment will set expectations, so members give us some latitude while at the same time possibly spur some helpful feedback.
There also may be ways to set expectations about the member’s responsibilities (so they get the most out of their membership). “Members who schedule a call with staff say they get much more out of their membership.” Or, “many of our long-time members say they never miss reading Friday’s newsletter.” Or, “new members overwhelmingly say the virtual new member orientation is worth their time.”
Pause before you hit send on your next member communication and review the message to find opportunities to set appropriate expectations.
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