For a business or individual to join your association, they must believe they are going to gain a certain amount of benefits or return on their investment - right? Same thing goes for current members. Each year when they are up for renewal, you best believe that the majority of your members will actively re-evaluate whether or not you’ve delivered enough value for them to continue supporting your organization.
Regardless of why a member joins your association in the first place, we know that trust plays a key role in how they view your organization. Here are some reasons why members may not trust your organization and would question their likelihood to renew:
Your listening skills are lacking.
Members want to know they’ve been heard. They have ideas, concerns and opinions about how you do business, and what they need and want from you. When you get feedback, don’t just read it and move along – answer them! Thank them for their feedback and, if it’s something you do wind up doing, make sure you reach back out to let them know. Taking an extra moment to give them a phone call is sure to brighten their day and strengthen your relationship.
Equally important - don't just sit around waiting for feedback. Social media allows you to be incredibly proactive: monitor conversations about your association and the industry to get ahead of what it is that members truly want. Reach out to them at events and ask them questions. Respond to comments on your blog posts, Twitter feed or Facebook page.
Be sure to document conversations with your members in your association management software. This will provide a historical record on that member's profile so that you and other staff will always remember what has been discussed previously.
Your services did not produce as promised.
There’s nothing worse than over-promising and under-delivering. Make sure your membership sales team provides a clear explanation of benefits and sets expectations for new members. That being said, whenever you're providing services to your members, you’re likely to hear about what didn’t work, and how they would like you to help them fix it.
Resist the urge to respond with a canned answer. Reply with a plan of action! Let your members know that you’re concerned about the state they are in, and as a provider of support, services and promotion, you want to do the best you can. Be committed to providing your members with the information they want, and the services they seek. Protect their interests by explaining to them your participation in industry initiatives and helping them remember why they chose you in the first place. If it comes down to it, set aside time to meet with them to reset expectations and create a plan to deliver the benefits they’re looking for.
They don't feel like you know them.
Do you send the same messages to all of your members, despite their role, experience, type of business or location? Your members don't want to receive information that is not relevant to them. For example, imagine how your members feel when they get emails inviting them to attend an event they've already registered for...you’re just clogging their inbox, at that point!
Your members (especially millennials) anticipate that you know certain information about them, and will use it to communicate with them effectively. Create segmented lists in your association management software so you are always communicating the right message with the right group of members.
Once you’ve identified which members should be receiving which communications, it’s a-okay to send them multiple reminders. In today's constant flow of communications, more frequent updates on new membership programs, events, legislative issues and educational opportunities may be necessary so that information doesn’t fall through the cracks.
Members expect (and deserve) a level of transparency on how your organization is working to help them grow. If they hear about items that are important to them AFTER the fact, they may feel like you’re hiding information from them or that you simply aren’t very good at communicating. Yes, it’s hard to ensure that all members know everything about your organization but make sure relevant information appears on the proper communications channels, making it as easy as possible for members to find what they are looking for
Now let’s talk earning trust for a minute. The above are things you may not realize are impacting your member’s trust in your organization. But, what activities can you engage in to straight up earn it? One way is to let your members in on big projects, such as events or legislative actions. By allowing your members to be part of the team you’re trusting them to be involved in bigger decisions and activities within the association. Hopefully, they will return that trust, and you will reap the results of growth and retention!
The days of "checkbook" members are over. Gone are the days where members will simply write a check for dues each year because it’s a "good idea." Your members haven't just joined your association - they've entered a relationship. And like any relationship, trust is critical for continuing and growing your members' engagement with your association. For more on member retention, take a look at our free guide: Best Practices for Membership Renewals!