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June 28, 2005

Three M&M take-aways

The symposium was really great. Attendees continued to approach me about my presentation from yesterday for more information and details. It was truly flattering to get such a positive response. In a way, I'm starting to feel like I've heard all this membership stuff before and I now find that I spend more time talking about our successful programs than writing down tips and techniques offered by other attendees. Does that make me a 'seasoned association professional?' The gold nuggets were harder to find, but let me share a few things with you, my loyal readers...

1. Front line customer service staff everywhere could improve their skills by being exposed to the best customer service in the world. Can we find the budget for front line customer service staff to have a one night stay at a 5 star resort or hotel at company expense so that they can experience for themselves first rate customer service? Customer service staff are less likely than management to have experienced great customer service, yet they are expected by their superiors to deliver great customer service sight unseen? That seems unfair and unreasonable. Give them the opportunity to experience 5 star service, tell them THAT'S the standard you are shooting for, and watch them deliver it.

2. Membership conveys both rights and responsibilities. Members can be also thought of as citizens of the association. How can associations move their members from being customers (consumers) to becoming productive citizens?

3. Membership organizations that streamline their governance structures run the serious risk of alienating their most loyal members. Streamlining governance in the interest of agility and profit may well pay off in the short term, but the long term effect may sometimes be to the association's detriment by eroding the support of its faithful. Are agility and inclusion mutually exclusive in association management? I'm not convinced that they are. It's certainly more difficult to be BOTH inclusive AND quick (but as I've written before) doing what is easier is very often the less appropriate option.

3 comments:

Jamie Notter said...

Can you say more about #3? In what kinds of situations will streamlining alienate loyal members? Is it possible that in the long term the association might be better off without those members? Clearly the answer to that one is "it depends," but I'd like to hear more about what you see as the real dilemma here.

chris said...

Like Jamie, I'd like to get a little more info on #3. When we talk about the "faithful" members, are we simply talking about those who've been in the association for a long time? Those who know how associations worked in the past but may not be the same as those new generation members who have a very different grasp of what they need?

I'm also intrigued by #2. Is it realistic to expect citizenship when more and more members are evaluating their associations based on actual value? Unless being a part of a larger community is that thing that you value, I'm not so sure about this one.

Ben said...

Let me ponder this over the weekend. I'll post more of my thoughts on after the 4th.