It’s tempting with all the responsibilities and drains on our time to automate everything we can. But if you automate in a disingenuous way, you’re liable to alienate more prospects and members and thus reduce your revenue streams.
The key to effective automation is automating things that will not enhance your relationship with your members. Processes are great candidates for automation. Anything that takes a personal touch, on the other hand, is better off not being automated. The following should never be automated:
Direct Messages on Twitter
Sending someone an auto-generated “Thanks for following” is a waste of everyone’s time. First, the message gets buried and secondly, most of them are done so poorly – as desperate cries for attention – that most of us are conditioned to ignore them. If you feel the need to thank someone for following you, do so in the Twitter stream and add a compliment about them, their site, or their bio. It’s a much more memorable touch.
While there is no reason to rewrite a welcome letter each time your association gets a new member, it is important to personalize your existing letter. This correspondence sets the tone for your new member’s relationship with your association. Do more than just add his first name as a mail merge field. Add something about him personally, your connection with him, his business, or his website. Provide him with a feature of membership that you think will be extremely helpful to him or connect him with someone who would be a valuable mentor or friend.
While associations may not have to respond to reviews frequently, we get more than our fair share of commentary involving conferences, events, and seminars/continuing education courses, and the like. It seems like crafting a response for comments that can be lumped together under categories saves time, but it also kills an opportunity for creating a stronger relationship.
When a member takes the time to advise you of their disappointment you need to answer it in a personalized way. Parts of the response can use canned language but you’ll never engage a member if your response is completely scripted. While dealing with disgruntled people is never enjoyable, they gave you the opportunity to remedy the situation. If they didn’t care, you simply wouldn’t hear from them. They’d share their discontent with their social circles, and not with you, so use the opportunity you’ve been given. Build that relationship through a personalized response.
Automation helps staffers become more efficient but it should never be conducted at the price of membership. Automate processes not people.