London, 25th November, the great and the good among UK’s leading trade organisations and associations gathered at Grayling PR’s HQ to discuss best practice when it comes to member retention.

Four panelists, chaired by Imogen Osborne, co founder, Q&R gave the audience a whistle stop tour of their current role and shared the good, bad and the ugly of what works well and what doesn’t when it comes to member satisfaction.  Audience members were able to quiz our panel and share their experiences and challenges.

Q&R also shared results of its one question Pulse Check of c500 CEOs and Membership Directors asking them what the biggest challenge was with member retention.

Results here:

61% Making members aware of all our membership benefits

19% Having enough time to talk to all our members individually

1% A lack of effective tools to gather feedback and to encourage positive dialogue

20% None of the above and here’s what I think

 Imogen Osborne, co founder Q&R commented:

 “What was clear from all our panelists was the need to focus and track member behaviour – whether that was through the number of renewals, asking for feedback using online tools or face to face conversations.  The key is to be as connected as possible with your membership.  It’s also important to remember that you can’t please everyone and there will always be the odd member who is never happy.  Ultimately, a successful membership organisation is one that is engaged in continual dialogue with its membership.  All of our panellists agreed that finding out what makes members happy on a regular basis is the linchpin to growing their organisations.”

Discussion points summarised here:

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive, Airport Operators Association

  • Important to identify member priorities
  • Focus on members first
  • Set the vision of being an A+ membership organisation
  • Encourage every team member to better communicators and to go the extra mile

Richard Lambert, Chief Executive Officer at National Landlords Association

  • Renewal Process needs to be easy as possible – online with a click here for payment (no more cheques in the post!)
  • Increase automation where possible to ensure timely emails and acknowledgements
  • Outbound calls to silent members to remind them of members benefits
  • Communicate member benefits at regular intervals and share ‘value add’ statements
  • Remind people why they joined using well presented, easy to digest communications
  • Ensure membership service lives up to the promise
  • Understand the membership – take a good look at what you are doing and have an honest appraisal of what is valued and being used
  • Move away from one size fits all and personalise the comms
  • Ensure mass of data you may be collecting already is crunched to give insight and inform decisions
  • Encourage training in comms to equip your team to improve relations with members and potential new members
  • In summary – streamline processes, communicate benefits and understand members 

James Jeynes FRSA, Chief Executive, Membership & Association Managers Network (MemNet), Executive Director (Part Time), UK Oracle User Group

  • New to Oracle and so first job is to ensure CRM is cleaned up to ensure all users are on the database
  • Critical to improve renewal process
  • Remind users of the benefits of membership
  • Assess the member journey/experience and find out if they are being over/under communicated with/to
  • Retention values begin from day one – what is the member experience and is it ticking the box for likely renewal?
  • Valuable to understand what customers value and so need to ask them
  • Renewal needs to be personalised using analytics to segment the members 
  • Hit the phones more (if a smaller number of members c250)
  • Assess what’s gone before to see if it is of value now. e.g axe the glossy mag if preference is an downloadable pdf etc.
  • Curate and aggregate info for members to add value e.g. share event outputs within 48 hours
  • Be agile and react to members needs
  • Use social media to engage and encourage members to have a conversation and not simply broadcast to them as a homogenous group
  • Face to face key where possible to build trust and hear what is working and what is not
  • Consider a Risk Register to identify those members unlikely to review due to a bad experience or late renewing in the past
  • Don’t ignore the apparently happy members as they still may have ideas and possibly latent grumbles to share
  • Team talk on a daily basis so that whole team is on the ball as to what members are saying and if there any issues brewing
  • Use existing apps such at MeetUps to encourage more interaction and regular get togethers at regional level

 Steve Miller, Membership and Partnerships Director, Public Relations Communications Association

  • PRCA driven chiefly by P&L and so growth is key focus
  • Value of engagement key and creating stimulating and engaging events has contributed to major growth over last few years
  • Measurement is critical and there is always more to be done here so that a picture of what members are thinking and feeling can be benchmarked and acted upon

Another member event is planned for the end of March 2017 and so if you are interested please contact us @qandr or to register your interest.