Membership organisations exist to serve their members. And to do this effectively, they must continuously improve their services to stay relevant and maintain the value they provide.
When Millertech is approached by trade unions, professional bodies or non-profits, it is usually because they have decided to embark upon a digital transformation. They wish to modernise their services and differentiate themselves from competitors. But while these clients usually appreciate the necessary technical investment for this process, it is not uncommon for them to underestimate the cultural change that is also required to ensure success.
We call this change “organisational transformation”, and its objective is to modify internal work processes to produce improvements in performance. Often this is considered an outcome of the technology, essentially a by-product of new software implementation. But the best results are in fact only achieved when organisational transformation is prioritised and tackled first.
Ask the right questions
The key element to a successful transformation of organisational processes is truly understanding which parts of your service really matter to your members. Being able to drill-down and focus the most effort where it will do the most good is crucial. Additionally, operational efficiency demands that you deliver this optimal value while also minimising the amount of non-critical or “waste” work that you conduct.
To achieve this, an accurate, comprehensive and up to date knowledge of member value is essential. And that means that organisations need to ask themselves a couple of tough questions:
1. Do we regularly contact, survey or meet with members to find out their honest opinion?
2. Do we know which parts of our offering are truly valued by customers and which are not?
Can good customer service mask the issue?
Highly responsive organisations can ironically face a further complication. Good customer service will sometimes mask any lack of understanding about what members need and value. For example, if an organisation resolves a member issue in a timely and professional manner, internal objectives will be met and that member will be satisfied. But it’s unlikely that they will be truly delighted.
So rather than asking “did we fix this”, the more important questions to address might be was the issue related to something the member truly values and could the negative interaction have been averted in the first place?
These need to be answered to gain crucial insight on which choice of technology could be deployed to permanently fix an issue.
Listening to members, openly and regularly, must be the starting point for any organisational transformation. Being able to define exactly what really matters to them has a huge impact on the time and investment needed to serve them, and on the quality of their member experience. Optimising these elements can in-turn generate additional capacity within an organisation that can be refocused on change and transformation.
How successful are organisations in responding to issues?
At Millertech, we have undertaken several studies within our customer base to analyse this question. And while each organisation is different, it is often possible to observe some common themes. Our most recent independent survey of professional bodies was in 2020. In it, we posed two questions to a group of non-profit membership organisations.
What is the primary reason that members gave for joining your organisation?”
This question sought to identify the key driver of member value. The results showed that 48% of these organisation’s members had signed up primarily to develop their own career.
Have your previous digital transformations helped you to offer a best-in-class CPD service”
Here we were interested in the organisations’ success in responding to this need and the answer surprised us. Just 20% of organisations reported that previous transformations had successfully delivered this result.
Clearly, there is a disconnect in these two responses. Organisations know broadly in what direction to move but their efforts are not delivering results.
Modifying the approach
The outcome is that for all the time and money invested, the services and experiences offered by these organisations are either not addressing their members’ true needs, or they are failing to meet their members’ expectations. Clearly, a different approach is required.
In our experience, the solution is to tackle the organisational processes within any digital transformation with the same focus and rigour that you approach the technological challenges. Ensure that you truly understand the needs of you members. Place this at the heart of your planning. And select a technology partner that also has the experience and expertise to support your organisational transformation.
Want to learn more?
More than 150 respected organisations have called on Millertech over the past 38 years, and we’d love to help you too. Schedule a brief call with one of our product experts to learn how we can solve your membership challenges.