What Can Jack Nicholson Teach Us About Member Experience?

Categories: Association Marketing

One of my all-time favorite movie clips is the bit from Five Easy Pieces when Jack Nicholson is in the diner ordering a plain omelet with toast. The reason why? Because in just two short minutes, it gives great insights into how the world has changed in terms of the critical interactions between organizations and their customers.While I happen to believe that these insights are universal, they are particularly applicable to associations and their never-ending quest in answering how to best serve their members.We are no longer in a world in which members can be served in a “one size fits all” manner.  Your members have too many alternatives that they can pursue to meet their diverse networking, advocacy, continuing education, sponsorship, etc. needs.

With the scene set, it is your turn to take a look at Nicholson’s classic portrayal of the symbiotic relationship that exists between the ever so important customer and the services that they demand.

Honestly, she should have just given him the toast, right? But…she didn’t.  As a result, you and your association staff can learn a few valuable lessons from Nicholson’s epic performance.

In a nutshell, here are the most important lessons that I have extracted from this short two minute clip:

  1. Members Pay Dues to Get What They Want, Not What Is On the Menu
    • Your website is your menu.  Make sure you have a content management tool or website partner that allows you to change content with great ease and integrates to your AMS.
    • Many prospects will make a decision on whether to join or renew simply on the basis of what they see on your website.
    • How many people look at your website and decide that you don’t even offer what they want?  You don’t even have a chance to make a menu substitution when this happens.
    • Does your website even accurately reflect what you are serving your members (e.g. latest events, accurate membership directory, online member self-service options)?
  1. Unhappy Members Are Probably Sitting at the Table with 3-4 Other People
    • Word of mouth and referrals is hugely powerful.  Good and bad experiences are amplified greatly in an uber-connected and social media-enabled world.
    • Understand the ripple effect it can have if you can satisfy one frustrated or challenging member.  How many other members or prospective members might become aware of the great experience they had?
    • Our company, WebLink, was created and grown by our founder for a decade without a marketing department or budget.  It grew on the basis of referrals and word of mouth alone.
  1. Allow Your Staff to Help “Make the Rules”
    • Trust your team to make great decisions on behalf of your members even when you (or management) are not there to approve it.
    • Your organization has great resources.  Make the most of them.  If you have a toaster, use it as many ways as you can.
    • In order to empower your people you need flexible processes, and therefore a flexible system, that allows for configurable solutions.  Simple things like emailing an invoice to a member rather than mailing it can matter a great deal.
  1. You Can Increase Member Life-Time Value by Offering More Sides
    • Do you even measure Life-Time Value for each of your members or by various member segments?  If not, how do you know how to segment and manage your membership?
    • Find ways to expose yourself to what other Associations are doing to serve their members in creative ways.
    • Don’t be stuck in the rut of what your organization has always done.  Consider non-dues revenue options that benefit your members such as enhanced directory listings or web site advertising.
    • Make sure you evaluate all partners, especially those that offer Association Management Software, for how they can be thought leaders and contribute to your success.

Now that I have officially diminished an Oscar worthy motion picture down to a two minute sound byte, and shared with you what I believe to be the most important takeaways; I challenge you and your team to apply the lessons learned to your association and the services that it offers.

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