are taking a break from our newsletter series
Growth by Acquisition to bring you the below article about managing
customers of non-profit or membership-based organizations. We will
continue with the series in our next newsletter edition with an article
about establishing key assumptions and planning parameters for an
Creating Member Loyalty
Over the last
several years, we have worked with a number of firms that are in, or
serving, the nonprofit / membership-based sector. From these
opportunities, we have gleaned observations that we feel are worthy of
sharing with others who may benefit from our learnings.
Our perspective on this topic will be presented in the following segments:
Difficulty considering Members as Customers
The reality of the situation
What to do?
Members as Customers
Too frequently, nonprofit / membership-based organizations have a
difficult time considering Members as Customers. Often, members are looked
upon (by employees of the firm) as "privileged" to be associated with the
firm. Taking a step further, we have even seen the situation where the
employees of the organization consider its members as colleagues who can
"put up with" minor (even major) infractions in their performance and
A key contributing factor to holding this perspective is the fact that
nonprofit / membership-based organizations prefer not to use terms common
in the "for-profit" sector, such as sales, marketing, revenue, etc. While
the organization may be avoiding such terms (including "customer") to
distinguish itself and the noble cause for which it stands, it is still a
business. In order for the business to survive and thrive, its income must
equal or exceed its outgo. Otherwise the organization will cease to exist.
And, it is the member/customer that provides the income.
The reality of the situation
Nonprofit / membership-based organizations are in a highly competitive
marketplace. Said another way, each person can only devote so much time,
money, and energy to "memberships." These people will make choices on
which memberships to "invest in" based upon the value received and how
easy it is to do business with the firm.
Similar to commercial organizations, nonprofit / membership-based firms
experience churn. That is, members/customers leaving the firm at a rate
that is disturbing considering the investment the firm must make to
acquire the members.
What to do?
The short answer to the question "what to do?" is to simply change the
mindset of every person in the organization to look upon its members as
customers. As a foundational step, this will "begin" to create a shift in
From there, it is recommended that the organization apply best practices
from the commercial / for-profit sector. In a nutshell, there are 3 major
steps to take:
Know your customer
Align your resources with a focus on the customer
Listen and respond to the needs of the customer
Embarking on the Journey to Customer Centricity provides more detail
in each of these areas.
If you'd like to discuss approaches and techniques to improving customer
loyalty, feel free to give us a call. We offer a no-nonsense customer
experience assessment that is performed in "short order" resulting in a
What the firm is doing well and should build upon
Opportunities for improvement
A pragmatic road-map clearly outlining what you can do
to close the gap between where your firm is and where it needs to be to
achieve exceptional levels of customer loyalty
closing, simple advice that we'd offer any firm is to expand the meaning
of customer. A "customer" is anyone who contacts your firm, to whom you
owe a response. Said another way, it is not just the person who is
presently "paying" for goods and services that you must treat
exceptionally well; rather it is ANYONE who may become a paying customer
or influence someone else to become (or not become) a paying customer.
+ Creating Member Loyalty
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About Customer Centricity, Inc.
We strengthen overall company performance through
better service delivery and management.
We boost efficiencies in front-line customer service and technical support
teams, order processing, fulfillment, field service, logistics and other
key operations functions.
In short, we align the resources of your organization to exceed your
customers' expectations in the most effective and efficient manner
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