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Voice of the Member Research

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A presentation given for ASAE in November, 2008, concerning how to collect and use "Voice of the Member" data for associations.

A presentation given for ASAE in November, 2008, concerning how to collect and use "Voice of the Member" data for associations.


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  • 1. Voice of the Member Chris Stiehl & Henry DeVries StiehlWorks & New Client Marketing Institute November 19, 2008 Connecting Great Ideas and Great People
  • 2. What We’ll Cover Today
    • Why should we care about this topic?
    • How do we uncover the “Voice of the Member”?
    • What can we do with the “Voice of the Member” once we have it?
    • What other “Voices” might we listen to?
    • What examples of this type of work do we have?
  • 3. Some of What You Will Learn
    • Learn how to acquire the “Voice of the Member” in their language, organized the way that they think.
    • Learn how to develop metrics that predict success with your members and prospects.
    • Learn how to let your members write your member satisfaction surveys.
    • Learn how to use all of that information to take the most impactful action.
  • 4. Research at ASAE in San Diego
    • We interviewed 15 members in attendance
    • We asked them what they would like to learn about doing “Voice of the Member” research
    • Almost all of them had surveys; many were doing occasional focus groups
    • Most of them did not have a system for conducting the research, nor a systematic way of incorporating the data into their activities – they just reacted to low survey numbers
  • 5. Results of Having a Systematic Approach
    • Increased membership
    • Increased subscriptions to products
    • Increased interest among members in helping to attract more members
    • Higher customer satisfaction among members
    • Better retention rates; fewer defections
    • Attracted more former members back into the fold
  • 6. An Example of What We Already Know versus How We Think About Success
    • Let’s think about going to the movies…
  • 7. Movie Theater Example
    • If you owned a movie theater and went to Europe on vacation, what would you want to know about your business while you are gone?
  • 8. Polling Question
    • What would you need to know about the movie theater business to know that things were going well?
    • Revenue Complaints
    • Gross receipts Concessions receipts
    • Attendance Costs/Problems
  • 9. Movie Theater – Part 2
    • You are trying to select between two theaters (equal price, distance and start times). How would you decide?
  • 10. Polling Question
    • How would you decide which theater to go to? Remember, start time, distance and price are non-issues.
    • Fresh Popcorn/Concessions Cleanliness
    • Type of crowd (no kids, etc.) Cup Holders
    • Comfortable Seating/Stadium Seating
    • Ease of Parking Friendly Staff
    • Convenience Quality Sound
  • 11. The Movie Theater Example
    • Why don’t the lists agree? How did we know they wouldn’t?
    • How would you characterize the two lists: - Looking forward versus backward - Bottom-line oriented versus customer-focused - Predictive versus reactive - Do the items on the list tell you what to do to get better if you are in europe?
    • When you look at the customer list, what types of experiences do you think lead to what was said, positive ones, or negative ones (pain)?
  • 12. What Does This Mean to You?
    • Should the lists agree?
    • How tough is it to think like a customer?
    • … like a member of an association?
    • How does the “Voice of the Customer” in the movie theater example relate to what you should measure to predict success with your members and prospects?
  • 13. The model of knowing your customer so well that you anticipate their every need!
  • 14. Customer/Member -Driven Improvement Model
  • 15. How Does This Work?
  • 16. Does Customer Satisfaction Matter? Retention after competition For AT&T based upon Satisfaction previously
  • 17. Your Members and Six Sigma
    • 266 of the largest 500 publicly held companies in the US as of 11/1/06 were implementing Six Sigma.
    • The Design for Six Sigma Roadmap lists 35+ steps. Step #2 is “list all detailed customer and functional requirements of the product or service.”
    Is that “enough said?” How do you get the “detailed requirements?”
  • 18. Starting the Voice of the Member Process
    • Understand What You Are Trying to Accomplish:
      • Write down what we already know (your mission statement, for example)
      • Understand what “pains” we know in our membership, if any
      • Market to the members’ pain; work on what is painful to them.
  • 19. Knowing What Can/Cannot Be Said
  • 20. Learning How to Listen for Pain
    • The best approach is to use one-on-ones, but many use focus groups
    • Learn both “passive listening” and “active listening” techniques
  • 21. Efficiency of One-on-Ones
  • 22.
    • 15 in-depth interviews
    • produce better information
    • than 7 focus groups
  • 23. Voice of the Member Process Phase 1 Phase 2 Identify Issues Write Interview Guide Test Interview Guide
  • 24. Collecting the “Voice” Requires Skill
    • Techniques can be learned with practice, but not everyone is comfortable nor able to conduct good interviews
    • Not everyone is capable of being a good respondent
    • You need to learn how to write an interview guide, prepare, probe, develop needs statements, the “5 why’s”, etc.
    • You must prepare and rehearse …but,
    • Let’s get a feel for the process!
  • 25. Writing the Interview Guide
    • Start with the idea that you are creating an encyclopedia of relevant issues.
    • Arrange questions within a topic from the broadest to the narrowest.
    • Group questions into a natural pattern or flow.
    • Make the questions open-ended.
    • Rarely will 50% of the interview guide be used in any one interview, but all of it will be used over the course of all of the interviews.
    • Don’t think quantitatively about qualitative research.
    • Gain familiarity with the guide so you will be comfortable skipping around – following their passions.
  • 26. 10 Questions to Ask
    • What are the three most important things that you do?
    • What gets in the way of doing those things?
    • Where do you spend most of your time?
    • Where would you like to be spending most of your time?
    • If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?
    • If I said joining ______ was a good value, what would that mean?
    • What is the biggest pain about working with our association?
    • What things are a big help; i.e., what data or tools have been provided that really work well?
    • Describe for me the “ideal” association for your company.
    • Describe for me a recent time that your experience with an association was less than ideal.
  • 27. Voice of the Member Process Hundreds of phrases “ Winnowing” Attributes Phase 2 Phase 3 Interviews Audio Recording Transcription
  • 28. Pros & Cons of “Passive Listening”
    • Subtle but powerful behaviors
    • Lean forward
    • Engage your eyes
    • Sit at an angle
    • Use verbal & nonverbal cues
    • Don’t fill silences; so people take longer to formulate their thoughts
    • Tends to reduce introduction of biases
    • You may not get as much detailed information, especially if the subject has trouble composing their thoughts
    • You may get data that is subject to interpretation because it has not been explored enough
    • You are required to have a “poker face” – not to respond to what the subject says in any way except, perhaps, to nod or say, “Uh huh.”
    Pros/Behaviors Cons
  • 29. Pros & Cons of “Active Listening”
    • Make speakers feel acknowledged and heard; therefore, likely to share more
    • Clarifies meaning; if there was a misunderstanding, it can get cleared up
    • Creates easy summaries and transitions
    • Provides another tool to surface needs and pain, besides probing
    • Allows time for thoughts to be organized
    • Ask for stories and interact, encourage
    • You may interrupt a speaker’s train of thought or reduce their enthusiasm for discussion
    • You may interject your own interpretation of the issue through paraphrasing
    • You may incorrectly mislead the respondent into thinking the topics that are paraphrased are more important than those that were not paraphrased
    • If not done well, can confuse the issue of who is being interviewed
    Pros/Behaviors Cons
  • 30. Learn what to listen for…
    • Listen for Growth Opportunities/Pains/Changes
    • Listen for Product/Service Quality (rework)
    • Listen for Problem Correction (make it right)
    • Listen to Foster Customer Loyalty (repeat business)
    • Listen to Improve Brand Management (str. & weak.)
    • Listen for Market Research (trends in real time)
    • Listen for Competitive Advantage (possibilities)
    • Listen for Context (identify exact likes and dislikes)
  • 31. Learn to Recognize Needs and Pains: Consider a Cup of Coffee
    • “ I’d like a hot cup of coffee”
    • – too vague; probe what hot means
    • “ I’d like my coffee in a styrofoam cup” – a solution; probe why
    • “ I’d like my coffee to be 105 degrees” - a target value; probe why
    • “ Hot coffee tastes better” - an opinion; probe why
    • “ I want my coffee to stay hot all the way to work” - a need statement we can design to; probe for distance, time, target values .
    • Listen for Needs and Pains!
  • 32. Voice of the Member Process Phase 3 Structure of Customer Needs Data Analysis Card Sort Focus Group
  • 33. The Hierarchy of Needs
    • Written in the language of the member
    • Written to describe the ideal (translate negatives into a description of the ideal)
    • The hierarchy represents how the members think, not necessarily how staff thinks
    • One or more focus groups of 4 to 6 members organize the needs in an interactive process
    • They are instructed to put things together that go together and name the categories
  • 34. Hierarchy of needs derived from member card sorts. A description of the ideal conference.
  • 35. Questions?
  • 36. Customer/Member -Driven Improvement Model
  • 37. What are the Key Criteria for a Good Metric?
    • Must be internal and predictive of meeting a need
    • Must be measurable (I can get a number)
    • Must be controllable (I can make the number change by taking action)
    • Targets are known (What score do I want to hit?)
    • Interactions are known (What else is impacted by moving this number)
    • It is repeatable (If I measure twice, I’ll get the same number)
    • It is easily implemented Remember the “fresh popcorn” example? How did we measure “freshness?”
  • 38. Polling Question
    • What metrics predict how your membership would respond to a survey question about the “responsiveness of the association staff?”
    • Time to return calls
    • Time to return emails
    • Attitude when returning calls
    • First call satisfaction
  • 39. Do Your Metrics Predict Success?
    • It is tough to come up with predictive metrics.
    • By the time you get a survey result, the damage has been done. This has been described as driving down the road while looking in the rearview mirror.
    • You should never be surprised by a survey result.
  • 40. Customer/Member -Driven Improvement Model
  • 41. Writing Good Survey Questions
  • 42. Hierarchy of needs derived from member card sorts. A description of the ideal conference.
  • 43. Survey Questions Members Want to Answer
    • Use the categories from the hierarchy that they created.
    • When you get a survey result, you know what they are talking about.
    • Surveys designed this way get much higher response rates.
    • The surveys are shorter and address issues than members care about.
  • 44. Always Ask About Importance
    • You want to work on issues where your score is not as high as you’d like, that are also important to your members.
    • If all you know is “satisfaction,” that is not enough. You must also know how important the issue is.
  • 45. Polling Question
    • What metrics predict that a current member will let their membership lapse?
    • Economy
    • Cost
    • Lack of relevant data to their business
    • Bad meeting/networking experience
  • 46. Customer/Member -Driven Improvement Model
  • 47. What is Important about Leather?
    • In a chair….
    • In a car….
    • In shoes….
    • In a briefcase….
    • In a couch….
    • In a baseball glove?
  • 48. Polling Question
    • What is important about leather in a car?
    • Cost Comfort
    • Suppleness/Feel That I Know It’s Real
    • Smell
    • Durability
  • 49. Cadillac Leather
    • We had decided that fly bites, mange, neck and belly wrinkles were all “defects.” The customers called them “natural markings.”
    • After spending $20,000 on VoC research, we were able to save $3 million per year with new standards and increase satisfaction!
  • 50. Hidden Virtues
    • How does the Leather Story relate to you?
    • What are the “hidden virtues” at your association?
  • 51. What Are Prospects Thinking?
    • In our interviews, they are thinking about…
    • Time needed to benefit from membership
    • Convincing management that membership is worth the expense
    • Time needed to submit data to the association’s databases
    • What exactly are the benefits and are they worth it?
    • Are my competitors in already?
  • 52. Polling Question
    • What metrics predict that a membership prospect will join your association?
    • Economy
    • Cost
    • Having relevant data to their business
    • Having the right industry members already
  • 53. Managing for Success
    • Learn how to listen!
    • Create predictive internal metrics!
    • Ask the members how you are doing.
    • Create staff teams to resolve issues and improve the metrics.
    • Follow the member-driven model; always have the members’ voice in the room!
  • 54. A Model of Customer/Member-Driven Improvement Pain (Voice) of the Customer External Measures Internal Measures Process Improvement Qualitative Research Quantitative Research Process Metrics Improvement Initiatives
  • 55. For More Information
  • 56. Thank you for your participation!
    • Chris Stiehl & Henry DeVries
    • StiehlWorks & New Client Marketing Institute
    • Phone: 619-516-2864 & 619-540-3031
    • E-mail: [email_address] & [email_address]
    • Web site: www.painkillermarketing.com