Part 7 of an 11-part blog series on the Rockefeller Habits for Associations.
If there is a file saved in your association’s drive titled something along the lines of “Member Satisfaction Survey,” it is time we sit down for a chat. While it’s a great idea to get feedback, there is more benefit in quality than quantity. Consider this question:
How are your members being served if the only data you collect is a vague idea of what could be done differently?
In the same way you want to engage employees in providing meaningful internal feedback, there is real value in being intentional with the feedback you collect from your members. With the right methods for gathering feedback and appropriate action, you can go find out what your members truly need to enhance their experience with your organization.
Method #1: Expanding Your Member Feedback Methods
The yearly survey model is not cutting it. Do you want to know why? It doesn’t reflect the moving needs of your members. Like anything else, good feedback means having a good strategy—one that is diverse and dynamic as your membership.
To ensure you are covering your bases, make sure you exercise multiple methods of collecting member feedback. Consider using both a formal method of collecting member feedback as well as an informal method. Platforms such as PropFuel have recently surfaced to provide a tool to engage members in providing feedback. Such personalized member engagement tools allow you to ask the right questions and collect more intentional data to drive the future decisions of your association.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should throw out your yearly survey completely. But by simply asking members what they want, you have very few options of what to do with their responses. Likely, the requests you receive, such as “I want lower dues next year,” come with very binary decisions. And none of those decisions really engage the needs of your members.
Instead of asking a series of yes/no questions, consider diving deeper to learn more about each member’s experience over the past year, what resources they could have benefitted from, what things they felt were missing, and the most impactful parts of being a member of your organization.
Gathering more qualitative data from members each year will give you the opportunity to integrate what they really need into the future of your association’s membership program.
Method #3: Tear Down the Walls of Conventionality
Just think about it: aren’t you honored when friends and contacts personally get in touch and ask for your advice or feedback? It’s a sign of respect. That person values your opinion so highly that they have come to hunt you down and ask for insight.
The relationship between an association and its members should function the same way. Show members just how much you value them by enabling instant direct connection and authentic expression with your organization. This reinforces casual and transparent conversations with members, instead of waiting for filtered yearly survey responses.
Use whatever means you need to in order to foster this kind of open transparency—not only with your members, but within your team as well. Both your internal community (employees) and external community (members) should have the opportunity to cross-over and communicate often about what is working and what isn’t.
Acting on Member Feedback
So once you have the member feedback, make sure to do something with it!
This data from your direct community is the most powerful kind of data you can have. This information is specific to the people and the purpose you are serving, and can remove some of the risk-taking that comes from guessing what the next year might look like and what resources members could benefit from.
The takeaway? Ignoring community feedback when making high-level decisions is a catastrophe waiting to happen.
With input straight from the source, this real-life hard data directly ties to the community your organization serves. As you make intentional shifts based on member feedback, you will start to see a rise in member engagement as well. You pour into your community, they benefit more from the membership, and your community sees exponential growth in a matter of a year.
In the End: Good Feedback Helps Everyone
By consistently collecting member feedback and keeping members engaged, you build trust and community within your association. Additionally, you make members feel heard, increasing their likelihood of engagement (and renewal), and giving them something to share with their friends who are looking for a positive community interaction.
Most importantly, making sure your members feel their input and experience are truly valued will give you the power and networking strength to make a larger and more relevant impact in the future of your industry.
Are you ready to take your member feedback approaches to an entirely new level? Do you want to achieve more for your members and your industry? We work with senior association executives and management teams to help you execute your strategic goals through a step-by-step, culture-driven process. Learn more about how we can expand your association’s impact.
Photo by Brett Jordan