The Importance of Member-Centricity in Developing and Enhancing the Membership Experience

July 15, 2015 Sue Froggatt

 Your members build their impressions of you from how you make them feel whenever they ‘interact’ with you.

These interactions will impact how they talk about you to friends and colleagues, whether they decide to renew, and how keen they are to engage and get more involved. So to grow and improve loyalty, it’s critical to get this right.

These interactions happen at a variety of touchpoints, from talking to employees, whenever they use any of the membership benefits, and when they read or try to respond to any of the communication channels-especially when they complete forms on your website.

In order to really understand what members experience when they interact with you, you have to step into their shoes and see what you do, but from the outside-in. This process of becoming ‘member-centric’, requires a new way of working.

Commercial organizations have adopted a tool called journey mapping. They develop a map – which is a walk-through of all the steps in the journey that their customers take in order to get the outcome they are looking for. They look closely for the areas which annoy customers because, for example, it takes too long, or there are too many steps involved or they get unclear messages about what to do next.

The good news is that the results the commercial sector has been achieving as a result of becoming customer-centric have been amazing. Research shows that commercial organizations who focus on the customer experience (cX) are 60%*1 more profitable; customers are more likely to recommend them and less likely to switch*2. This reinforces why this shift in focus is so important to membership associations lookingto grow and improve loyalty.

The customer experience has become a boardroom issue. Around the table you will now find a CXO – A Chief Experience Officer – tasked with ensuring that the membership experience is closely monitored. cX has come of age and moved from what was considered a niche or specialist area, to a mainstream necessity.

It’s not difficult for associations to adopt this thinking and use these tools. In the new book ‘Managing the Membership Experience’, there is a template for journey mapping that has been customized for membership organizations to use. Readers can also walk through the key member journeys, for example the journey into membership, the first year of membership and the journey into volunteer leadership, and see how the templates might be completed.

Associations can use this mapping process to enhance the experience of their events and professional associations might also wish to map the journey from student to full membership to try to improve the conversion rate.

For many professional associations, the idea of journey mapping won’t be new as they are accustomed to mapping career journeys or pathways for a profession, highlighting the various appropriate qualifications along the way. This exercise simply uses a journey mapping process from a different perspective.

The outcome of mapping exercises really becomes clear as members walk through the maps and share what they see.

This new perspective gives association managers a new outlook on what is really important to the member and what to focus on.

In all likelihood, after adopting mapping you will never approach membership in the same way again. You certainly won’t want to develop your membership plan without a clear view on the current membership experience.

For more information on how to manage the membership experience, visit my site.

*1 Deloitte & Touche

*2 Forrester Research



About the Author

Membership Consultant // Sue Froggatt is the founder of Sue Froggatt Training and Consulting, an independent company focused on providing seminars, consultancy and research for membership organizations. She specializes in the recruitment and retention of members, membership research, the membership experience and engaging member volunteers. Sue has co-authored the book "Managing the Membership Experience", developed the MembershipMapping™ process and CleaView research tool.

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