I awoke and padded my way downstairs to start the day. After pouring my coffee, I looked in the pantry for breakfast. A new box of my favorite cereal (made by a company that’s a well-established household name that will remain anonymous), was the choice. Eager to dig in, I open the box, admiring its colorful logos and reading promises of providing me with its “8 essential vitamins and iron.” The gum seal, however, is too strong, and the box material flimsy. This leads to a torn box top flap – which now won’t seal properly for the remainder of the life of the cereal. I roll my tired eyes and try to overlook this flaw.
Next, I approach the waxy cereal bag that holds my morning treasure. Being gentle – remembering what happened to the box – I attempt to open the bag. It, too, is extremely flimsy and the tear goes well beyond the bags seams, spilling the “hearty flakes of tasty goodness” everywhere. Now, like the box, it will never close the way it was intended; a dry, stale cereal certainly awaits me in the near future. Perhaps the critters of summer will find their way to my sugar-coated nutrition, too, leaving me only one option – throw the whole thing out. My favorite box of cereal, one that was supposed to delight me, left me aggravated and let down.
An organization’s customer experiences can be like a cereal box in many cases. Our members anticipate the pleasure of a using a new service or product, joining a new committee or participating for the first time at an event. They have heard many promises along the way: "trust and invest in this" and you’re life will "be transformed,” “significantly improved” or “a whole lot easier.”
But have you designed user experiences that actually deliver on these promises? Is your organization set up to ensure your resources delight and amaze or do your activities and services simply leave users feeling ho-hum, disappointed and/or frustrated?
The following are some recommended first steps to take to enrich member experiences:
Use a “secret shopper” at your conference. Unbiased input from a professional researcher will be invaluable to you, uncovering hiccups, exposing rough spots and areas for instant improvement.
Establish listening posts and adopt a voice-of-the-customer (VOC) system. Capture and review inputs on listservs, tweets and emails sent to your member services department. After listening and measuring these inputs – act!
Assemble some cross-functional teams. Have vested stakeholders from across the association work deliberately on continuously improving your key resources such as conferences and publications/content.
Because at the end of the day, it’s not about what’s on the box. It's delivering on what’s inside that truly matters.