You know about your website, your forms, your payment processes, and your membership. But what do you know about your member’s experience moving through them as they apply for membership?

Email opens and clicks help give you an impression of whether or not members are renewing, but what metrics are available to help you understand why members choose to renew or not renew?

Exploring these questions can reveal game-changing insights for your organization. Step into the experience of your members as they interact with your many efforts to engage them, and you’ll be far more capable of inciting their action.

What’s ‘Member Experience’?

What’s it like applying for membership in your organization? 

Before application has even taken place, new members have walked a long road that brought them to you. Something initiated their search for an organization like yours, and along the way many decisions were made to ultimately bring them to you.

For every member that walked the path successfully, and made their way to application in your organization, there are who-knows-how-many that started the journey but didn’t make it to you.

This is looking at applications through the lens of ‘Member Experience’. Going beyond simply your members, it’s a way of thinking that can help you drive the success of your organization.

The Concept in Action

Let’s use member applications as an example to demonstrate how thinking in terms of Member Experience can drive success.

When membership managers think about how they can improve applications, it’s natural to think in terms of the touchpoints prospects interact with to process their application.

You might take a look at, for example, your application form – and consider optimizing it. Optimizing one touchpoint will likely have a positive impact on successful applications, and perhaps improve a members experience, but the impact will be a minor one.

Thinking in terms of customer experience, we can think beyond our touchpoints by considering what brought members to them. Many of the members that interact with your form are being brought to it for the same reason. Before they ever open it, they’ve been in the process of considering membership.

By thinking in terms of their experience before interacting with your touchpoints, you’ll expose yourself to opportunities to include yourself in this consideration process. Consider:

  • Gym applicants spend a long time considering their fitness goals before they ever apply. Target those learning more about fitness with the information they’re looking for, and present your organization as the path to their success.
  • Professional’s are always trying to stay abreast of what’s new in their discipline. If you’re a professional organization, target this audience with content that demonstrates membership in your organization as a powerful source for the latest-and-greatest in industry insight.

For every member that successfully applies for membership, there are many more that don’t! The desire they experience that ultimately brings them to you is felt by many that don’t find your organization. Find target those experiencing the desire, and present an easy path to membership!

Seek Qualitative Insight

You don’t have to formalize ‘member experience’ practices to start enjoying value from them.

The process starts by simply talking to your members. Ask them what brought them to your organization, incite authentic conversation, and you might be surprised what kind of insights they reveal.

Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions. Invite opportunities for members to point out high-friction areas along the way. You might not be aware of the difficult thresholds you’re asking members to cross to successfully become members. Maybe your payment process is needlessly complex. Perhaps initial fees are a little high. Maybe you aren’t aware that you application form isn’t loading properly on mobile devices or a particular browser.

Understand the difficulties prospects face along their path to successfully becoming members in your organization, and you’ll be able to address them! Simplify your payment process. Offer promotions or new payment structures. Rethink your application forms. Everything you do to improve a members experience along the path to successful application will have a lasting impact on the success of your organization!

Build Quantitative Understanding

Once you’ve established an understanding of some of the difficult thresholds members have to cross on their path to application, it’s time to measure. With a quantitative understanding of exactly how impactful each of these difficult thresholds is on a members experience, you can:

  • Identify the most prominent barriers to a positive member experience.
  • Measure the impact of your efforts to reduce friction throughout a members experience.
  • Cultivate buy-in from executives and relevant stakeholders to support efforts to improve member experience.

Identifying thresholds

Casual interviews with members will give you an understanding of the friction-points along your member’s path to application. Measuring the impact of these friction-points will give you the understanding you need to evaluate where best to devote your resources. Target the most prominent friction-points for maximum value.

Measuring Impact

If a member tells you that high initial fees gave them cause for hesitation before they applied, you’ll want to consider reducing or re-structuring them. But before you do so, it’s critical you have a plan to measure the impact of your effort. 

Consider establishing a ‘control’ baseline by comparing the number of prospects that opened your application form to the number that successfully completed it. Take this ratio and, after adjusting your fee’s (or any other friction-point) to one you believe to improve member experience, evaluate the impact of your effort.

By measuring the impact of your work to improve member experience, you’ll be able to see what works and what doesn’t.

Cultivating Buy-In

Sometimes you need support to make the changes necessary to improve member experience. Getting this support can be tough. With data-based arguments to justify your proposed efforts, it’s a lot easier. Again, qualitative interviews will show you where your problems are, but quantitative measurements of those problem-areas will help you – and your stakeholders – understand them.

Apply the Concept Everywhere

In this article, we’ve applied the lens of customer experience to the goal of improving member applications. By thinking of a member’s experience before and during the application process, we’ve seen that there are many opportunities to improve member applications beyond optimizing common touch-points.

Focusing on member experience, we can identify friction-points that member’s experience well before coming into contact with your organization with qualitative interviewing. Establishing quantitative metrics to measure the impact of these friction-points helps you prioritize which to address first, understand the impact you’re making on them, and cultivate the support you need to successfully eliminate them.

Use the lens of member experience to find new, powerful ways to achieve any of your organizational goals. Applications, renewals, events, etc. – whatever your goals are, thinking in terms of ‘Member Experience’ will help you achieve them!