By Kristi Spargo, CAE
Like gazillions of others around the globe, as of late I have spent some (aka way too much) time binge-watching TV. I subscribe to a variety of streaming services and recently selected a potential new addiction. After the first somewhat engaging episode, the little black box popped up in the corner and informed me, ‘120 seconds until the next episode’ and even included a clock politely counting down. I said aloud with disgust to no one else in the room, “Are you serious right now?” The rational side of my brain fully comprehended that if I did not want to wait for the auto-load, I did have the choice to simply pick up the remote and hit, NEXT. Yet in that split second of time, my righteous anger churned at the unjust notion that I should be forced to choose between finding the stupid remote or staring at the credits for two. whole. minutes. I did in fact choose to find the remote, and immediately went to another streaming platform to find a new show.
What does my laziness have to do with association management? It serves as a tiny example of the world we live and work in. Long before the devastating impact of COVID-19 descended upon all of us, the world was quickly moving to instantaneous results and feedback. Packages were delivered within a day, dinner bills were split instantly over the phone, and Live Chat replaced the tedious task of talking to an actual human. With the necessary advent of online car shopping, home sales and countless other contact free services, people will now veer out of caution as well as convenience to quick online interactions.
Please don’t get me wrong; I am a huge advocate of associations providing the personal touch. I believe that many people are fed up with an automated society and associations have a chance to differentiate by actually caring about the human on the other end of the line or email. I believe all associations should have member satisfaction follow-up programs, including personal phone calls, that all emails should be answered within 24 hours, and that an angry caller needs to first be listened to and acknowledged instead of forwarded.
At the same time, associations have no alternative other than to also provide high-speed online services to meet member needs in a world where they expect nothing less. Realistically, your members should be able to complete the following online, preferably with automatic results and a confirmation.
- Join/Renew and access member benefits and resources
- Change their address
- Find or reset log-in User ID/password
- Subscribe to a publication and gain digital access
- Register for a meeting
- Access online courses
- Submit CE credits
These are just to name a few. When reviewing what your association offers online, think about what you would expect if you were on a website looking for service. How hard are you willing to work before saying, seriously? Every member that struggles to get an answer is a member that’s more willing to take their hard-earned membership dues and move on to another platform.