Why Customer Service is Important For Your Association
The goal of customer service is to create a bridge between an organization and a customer. Ideally, this connection sets the organization up as relatable and ensures that customers are heard and satisfied. For an association, customer service can keep members happy, involved, and willing to renew their membership in the future. If done right, great customer service can lead to member referrals, increased sales, and stronger relationships with other organizations, like advertisers and sponsors.
Accomplishing this, however, requires more than just friendliness in communications. Contemporary members demand that their associations keep their best interests in mind and prove it. Read on to uncover some ways that your association can go the extra mile for your members and give them the quality customer service they deserve.
Don’t Be Afraid of Change
Associations that are willing to adapt are able to demonstrate to members that they value change. It is necessary. It’s not only the industries, professions, and professionals that evolve over time, but the technology available to associations and membership needs evolve as well. Yet, while adaptation is needed, associations should avoid change for the sake of change. Instead, they should take calculated risks by incorporating moves that improve membership quality and value. Ensure members know why the changes were made and how these changes will benefit them.
A safe way to incorporate or introduce change is to request input from members. Ask for improvement suggestions, take member surveys, and run feedback polls. From there, it’s important to display the results of this member feedback and implement changes that the members want. Through this type of response, associations can build up member loyalty and engagement. Knowing their input is valued and integrated, members take a greater stake in their association. They align their interests more closely with those of the association and value its successes more. For the association, dedicated, satisfied, and engaged members provide more renewals and more referrals.
Maintain Clear Communication
Communication is one of the primary elements of good customer service. Associations that keep open and honest lines of communication with members maintain a higher level of engagement and a stronger reputation. By informing members of upcoming events and associational changes in a clear and concise manner, associations can eliminate or at least limit any confusion, misinterpretation, or mix-ups. This can improve event attendance and minimize any resistance to changes.
Through effective communication, an association can also position itself as a hub for industry information. Connect members with industry news, encourage targeted discussions, and notify members of association initiatives to ensure they continue relying on the association for information. Strong communication is a two-way street. For best results, associations can ask members to suggest their preferred level and method of communication. Answer questions and contribute to discussions via social media to ensure members see the association as something more than a faceless entity.
The association members of today, particularly the younger generations, appreciate genuineness and authenticity from organizations. Intuitive professionals can read between the lines in sales speak and can perceive unspoken agendas in marketing communications. Simply by providing open and honest customer service, an association can build better and more trusting relationships with its members, leading to stronger loyalty down the line.
Another element to a genuine association is demonstrating empathy for its members. Try to appreciate and understand the member position. Be accountable and responsive. Apologize for inconveniences and address member concerns within an appropriate time frame. Genuine quality customer service helps build a solid and dedicated membership. Appreciated members attend and participate in more events, which can lead to more and better sponsorships.
Develop a Personal Touch
The best customer service relies on a connection being made between the association and members. For this to happen, members need to feel seen and heard on a personal level. Communications and ads personalized to the recipient will result in far greater responses than the general varieties. This makes sense as personalized communications speak to the recipient’s specific history, scenario, and interests.
Of course, this can prove challenging, especially for associations with a large number of members. By using targeted member technology, such as mail chimp or targeted Facebook ads, however, associations can still reach a large group of people with personalized communications. Associations can further improve the results of these campaigns by grouping members into similar demographics, like age, profession, job title, and location.