4 strategies for creating a Membership Service Culture
One of the most common challenges I hear from managers is how to get staff to want to provide better service. I have trained hundreds of customer service teams for over 25 years, and have observed that the organizations who nurture the best service behaviors use these five strategies that also apply to how not-for-profits interact with their membership:
1. Educate Towards Empathy
It's easier to get staff and volunteers to care about members by putting them in the member's place. That's why I ask participants to create a list of what they expect when they are members or customers when clients bring me in to conduct customer service training seminars for their teams. Then we reveal tips on how, by simply changing a few words, staff and volunteers can demonstrate that they understand the member's perspective. Compare: "I'll have to check our schedule" vs. "I'll be happy to check our schedule for you."
2. Send Grumps Elsewhere
Pay attention to how each of your staff and volunteers responds when a member casually asks, "How are you?" If staff or volunteers use that small-talk question as a license to complain about how they feel (busy, tired, or ready for a break) it's time for a chat or a training review. That staff member or volunteer needs to make a serious choice to either a) stop burdening members with their problems, or b) consider working somewhere else. That might sound harsh, but the last thing today's harried members need is to be forced to listen to the soul sucking lamentations of a service provider who over-shares.
The bonus of sending toxic talkers to work elsewhere is your remaining staff will appreciate the more positive atmosphere with the purging of just one negative person.
3. Catch Them Being Good!
That message was pasted on a banner at a daycare across from a fitness room where I was working out. It was meant to remind the staff to pay attention when toddlers are doing the right things; not just correcting them when they misbehave. Similarly, managers foster better member experiences by catching staff and volunteers when they provide exceptional service. The key, then, is to ensure all team members learn from the positive behavior.
That leads us to ...
4. Stage a Membership Services Team Meeting
Getting staff and volunteers to care requires more than a onetime event; it requires ongoing nurturing of your member service culture. To make the process more efficient, consider staging membership services team meetings. It's where leaders and their teams talk about how to make the experience better for members, staff and volunteers, managers, and other stakeholders. Such meetings take as little as 90 minutes a month and you'll find that in as little as six months they transform your member service culture. Essentially they involve reminding team members of your service mission and standards, providing a coaching moment, disseminating member service feedback, discussing ways to enhance the experience, and celebrating your service legends -- examples where staff went above and beyond for members.
I detail the step by step process in my book, Becoming a Service Icon in 90 Minutes a Month.
Cultivating a member service culture isn't complicated. It does, however, require training and support. Some managers claim they're too busy for this. My question: in today's hyper-competitive marketplace where your service is increasingly the only significant differentiator, what could possibly be more important to managers than ensuring your team provides outstanding service that members notice, pay a premium for, and tell others about?.
This article is based on the bestselling book, Becoming a Service Icon in 90 Minutes a Month by Hall of Fame motivational speaker, Jeff Mowatt. To obtain your own copy of his book or to inquire about engaging Jeff for your team, visit www.jeffmowatt.com.
Speaking of association membership, are you a CASE member yet? CSAE provides benefits to both not-for-profit professionals and business members who offer services to associations and similar organizations. Have a look at what we have to offer and join the CSAE community as its latest member.