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Customer Service Tips for Associations

A Customer Service Driven Organization: Building a customer (or, member) service driven organization has many components that rely on one another.  It is critical that the organization truly embraces efforts from the most senior staff to the receptionist.  The organization will need to challenge all staff to go above and beyond any past service levels that may have been experienced.

With this, the expectation cannot be to have this change overnight, or to come naturally to all. But ultimately, there should be a deep and ongoing sense of satisfaction once programs are in place that you have development an ongoing customer (member) relationship.

Association Concerns:  Association executives are well aware of the emerging need for member-driven management and customized service. From the 2014 Pulse Report, it was reported that almost half expressed strong concern about their organizations’ inability to properly track or measure member engagement.

Start by developing a customer service mission statement.  The association (and, subsequently, the staff) should clearly convey the organization’s specific objectives as they relate to customer service.  This goes beyond the mission & vision:  It should directly relate to a “promise” you make to your members, stakeholders and community at large.  It should be dedicated to building an organizational perspective of what “WOWing” the customer is truly about.  It should also be communicated with both customers and employees on a regular basis.

Personal touch IS important!  For the last three years of research, email was still the most popular communication method, used by 77.7% of organizations. Phone support & contact is gaining traction again after several years of going by the wayside, and it is important to recognize that your current (or, perhaps your future) team is not prepared for the personal touch.  It is more important now than ever to have policies and procedures in place that affect the customer service approach, and that training around these procedures are given the appropriate time and importance.

Do you know what your membership lifecycle looks like?  A functional walk-through is a step-by-step view of the lifecycle of a customer/member as it relates to doing business with your organization.  This includes the entire process from the initial website review, to the first time they showed up to an event as a non-member, to the day that they joined, to becoming a life-time member.  The key is to identify stages in which specific people or departments engage and/or interact with the customer.  This helps organizations identify key points where they can create worthwhile methods of interaction.  TOO FEW organizations will ever take the time to look at the customer in such a manner/

Association executives’ assessment of their most serious engagement challenges suggested that they’re well aware of the emerging need for member-driven management and customized service. Consistent with the 2012 and 2013 results, the 2014 respondents expressed strong concern about difficulties meeting members’ specific needs and a lack of member-driven research. And a new issue—the inability to properly track or measure member engagement—was the most serious of all, with 43.5% of Pulse Report participants identifying it as a top concern.  Ensure your system can track conversations, so that the next staff member (or, future staff member) is aware of the members activity and engagement.  In addition, your policies and procedures should account for expectations of notes to file.

Engage:  Have your team set goals – maybe start with something like “learn three new things about members this week”.  Engagement represents going above and beyond any effort that has been made up to this point.

What else could you be doing?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at