The quickest way for hurting associations to fix what ails them is to better understand their members. We need to know member’s needs and empathize with their challenges; this is the path to learning how to serve members the best. Marketers tend to take ownership for this work but, the results become much more meaningful when supported by each of the association’s leaders.
Member focus is difficult
Gathering, analyzing and summarizing member insights is hard, time-consuming work. If many hundreds of hours or hundreds of dollars are going to be devoted to this endeavor. Therefore the executive director, board and key director/VP level staff should feel that the value of the insights far outweigh the cost of getting them.
The information is useful association-wide
Good member insights can help editors write better content, motivate member service to revise policies that alienate members or help events staff develop even better attendee experiences. Directors and staff in all departments at all levels can exponentially improve the member experience if they understand and leverage member insights.
Member insights can come from anywhere
Big quantitative and qualitative research projects are amazingly insightful and so is member learning gained during business development presentations, association events, member service calls and in forums. Ask staff to be on the look out for member insights. What are you hearing that’s new? Is there a shift in overall optimism or the reverse? What is most often mentioned? This little change in mindset can help everyone be more member focused all the time. Additionally each staff member can be tuned into shifts in the industry which allows the association to provide thought-leadership on new issues and trends.
When being member focused is supported through-out the association every department looks for the best way to serve members.