There are many aspects involved in communicating value to your members but one of the most important skills for effective communication often gets overlooked – listening. How can we communicate value to our members if we don’t know what they value?
Think about it. When talking to a prospective member of your organization, what is the first meaningful question you ask them? “What is your biggest challenge?” Why do we ask this? Simply put, we are gathering information – also known as listening. Then, based on the answer that the prospect gives, the pitch you give about your organization will be unique to that person’s challenges. Now think how effective it would be to ask each of your members what challenges they face and what they expect from your organization.
The good news is you can and those of you that have surveyed your members can attest to its value. Surveys are so important but some organizations simply overlook this great opportunity to connect with their members. Maybe you do a longer annual survey or short monthly surveys. Either way, having a flow of information coming back to you is so important when creating your goals and objectives for the year.
Surveys are also very simple. In this digital age, there are so many online survey tools to choose from it will make your head spin. If you want to really impress your members though, consider a brief two or three question survey that can be administered over the phone and divide your membership list among staff members.
If you are stuck on what questions to ask, start with some of the ones that are most important to your organization’s growth: “If a friend of yours was not a member of this organization, would you recommend that they join?”
I have seen some great organizations slowly lose value among members because they don’t take the time to listen. The world is changing and so are our members. Why not engage them in a conversation to discover what they would like their organization to look like? Don’t be afraid of some constructive criticism, because the comments generated by the survey could be the opportunity to connect with a disengaged member. Besides, a survey gives your members a forum for their comments. Without a forum, those comments might just end up in your board members’ email inboxes.
At the end of the day, it is important to remember we and our fellow staff members do not make the organization – we are the keepers of the organization.