No email, no call, no member orientation automated campaign.
All I received was a transaction confirmation for my dues.
I belong to multiple industry and interest groups to which I pay dues. The associations I appreciate the most are those who celebrate when I join (or renew), following up my online experience with a welcome packet that reminds me of benefits and what to expect as a member.
These organizations immediately remind me why I joined and began to build a stronger sense of community. One common denominator is that these organizations are national or international — with a widely distributed membership.
When a local organization accepts my membership dues and neglects to welcome me, I begin to wonder why members continue to renew when the initial experience is so… empty. It doesn’t have to be an association; it could be an alumni group or a local charity.
When the first impression I form is that all an organization wants is my money, I begin to regret my decision.
While I don’t expect a call from the president (although that would be wonderful), I joined this local organization to renew relationships and form new ones. It’s a business organization, with a mission of helping local businesses network and grow.
1. Reduce Friction
It’s up to you to create a frictionless experience for people who want to join your association, purchase your products, or donate to your cause.
Is your team listening and observing what customers experience? Are you paying attention to:
- Shopping cart abandonment rates,
- Email from potential customers and members who are unable to complete a purchase or sign-up process,
- Donors who give one time but never make another donation,
- Potential members who attempt to enroll but get fustrated with the process,
- Students who attempt to enroll but get discouraged because the enrollment process fits your internal systems and not their needs?
It doesn't take long for customers to see through your carefully constructed brand experience into your company culture. Every experience (positive or negative) with customer service or an online transaction forms a new perception in your customer’s mind.
2. Create a Customer-focused Last First Experience
No matter what words you use in your marketing, if your organization’s actions and behavior don’t align with the experience you deliver or promise you make, over time your organization won’t come across as believable.
Your customer’s best perception of your organization is only as good as the last experience a customer has with any touch point. Think of every last experience as a potential first experience.
3. Remember that Everyone is a Customer
It doesn’t matter what type of organization you lead, consider everyone you serve as a customer, and treat them with dignity and respect:
- If sales are static, personally contact customers who abandon shopping carts to understand why they didn’t complete their purchase.
- Follow a purchase up with a thank-you note. If it’s a significant purchase, send a thank-you gift.
- If a customer reports an issue with signup or purchase, your first email response should be to ask for their phone number to call and understand how you can help the customer achieve their goal.
- After a donor signals their trust in your organization by donating, thank them multiple times. Make it meaningful, acknowledging their gift is meaningful and their generosity makes a difference.
- If student enrollment is down, review the online and interpersonal interactions and make changes that are bestter suited to the student experience, and create positive initial perspectives.
There’s a reason why companies like Zappos and Tom’s that operate with a strong culture of communication that supports customer service and experience are so successful. Customers are first in word and action, and the companies demonstrate it at every touchpoint.
You can do likewise.