The Authentic Voice – The Value of Listening to Members
Have you ever considered why there are many associations that don’t listen to the voice of their members – considering how vital a tool this can be?
Decisions such as whether or not to invest in an annual membership subscription are usually influenced by the expertise, views and voice of peers. There will be members that are communicating with associations every day of the week advising them of their views and what they value… but unfortunately many associations are choosing not to listen to their members. Why?
Recent market research indicates that the primary reason for the majority of members joining an association is to keep up to date with information and guidance from their profession.
But unfortunately this does not give a real indication as to why members would like to stay or even join the association in the first place. This is a generic tick box response that does not highlight the core underlying reason. After all, who in their chosen profession does not want to learn more and gain access to opportunities to network?
Make changes so that members are heard
Many associations need to review their communication methods and look at ways in which they gain the trust of their members, as they find ways to listen and more importantly communicate critical information to their members. Communication stems further than just listening - allowing members to talk and ask questions, and recognising clues for action and improvement. Membership associations need to ensure they are working towards resolving the real problems that keep members awake at night, and ensure they reflect these messages to each member in a language they understand.
With time and an initial learning curve, associations can learn to hear the voice of their members in order to work more effectively.
The authentic voice of every member
An authentic voice? What’s meant by this? It describes the phrasing, words and tone that members use when communicating with their peers. It is in the way questions are asked and how problems are solved on a day to day basis.
In the modern world we live in, the best and most effective method for an association to listen to the voice of their members is through social networking websites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. The associations can easily identify what questions are being asked and who is asking them. Coming to a place members are voluntarily building connections and lasting relationships is a vital exercise that all association should be undertaking.
It’s also been shown that members are also open to receiving emails from association as well as accessing their website for the latest information. Associations must make sure that they’re sending out the right kind of content via email, and must track the results of these emails – in terms of opens, clicks and shares. This will help them gain an understanding into what members are interested in, what resonates with them and what they feel is important enough to share with peers and colleagues.
Members are also attending conferences and other events such as and webinars, seminars and training courses. Whilst they are there, they will be talking to the event managers, membership directors and other association employees. Associations must ensure that this communication is fed back into their organisation and used to improve the value of the events and subscriptions.
It is extremely important to note that the a lot of of association staff do not have the time or skills to listen and engage with its members – they are tied up in the day to day managing of the association, and don’t have the chance to take advantage of the information they’re being given by their members. It’s not a case of not wanting to put time aside to try and understand and acknowledge what the members have to say and how their opinions can be heard – but a case of not having the opportunity due to complex management processes.
Associations are always looking for ways to increase memberships and convey value but they are still ignoring the most powerful tool available to them – and that is the authentic voice of each of their members.
Learning to listen
Associations need to empower their own employees to help them listen to their members. How can this be achieved? By making sure they’re employing best practice processes internally.
At Silverbear, we’ve helped many associations improve working practices through the use of our membership software. Associations can take advantage of technology and start to engage in valuable two way communication with their members. Taking this information and implementing continuous improvements to further add value to membership subscriptions – helping to increase both membership subscriptions and retention.
Are you taking advantage of the voice of your members?
Categories: Membership Management; Membership Marketing