Membership organisations have a lot of data to keep track of. Whether they are academic institutions, geared towards professional certification, or more commercial enterprises catering for specialist interests, the more these membership organisations know about their members, the better they can serve them. But managing that data grows more complex as the organisation evolves, and the old ways of doing things don’t always support current needs.
Let’s look at the specific needs of membership organisations and see how an advanced CRM system can help.
Some membership organisations bestow upon their members a certification or accreditation that is necessary for their professional practice. To keep this accreditation, members must renew their membership periodically and perhaps provide evidence of their continued expertise or employment in this field. Reminding members that renewal is due, giving them the information they need to fulfil requirements, and removing those who don’t renew from the ‘active members’ list are all tasks that can be automated using an advanced CRM.
Many membership organisations will offer professional development courses, in-person events, exhibitions, etc. either as part of or in addition to the membership package. Making sure the right people are targeted with the right communications is another job for the CRM and can also be automated if you’ve captured the detail for every member. For example, if your organisation is open to all boat owners, you would want to distinguish between people who sail dinghies and people with super yachts, knowing they have different interests and different budgets. Likewise, if your events are location-specific, it makes sense to target members geographically. All this information can be held by your CRM and utilised to produce a targeted marketing campaign.
Long membership durations
There are membership organisations that are most relevant for specific periods of your life. For example, most people will only be part of the National Union of Students for a few years. Whereas there are other organisations, like the Royal College of Physicians, whose members remain for the duration of their career. Long-term membership organisations have to deal with the challenges of keeping up with members throughout the many moves and changes that take place through their lives. Managing this data, or allowing members to manage their own data, can also be conducted through an advanced CRM and usually with very little manual intervention.
Managing lots of data
Membership data will vary from one organisation to another, but can end up being very complex. Some older organisations, due to the nature of the technology available at the time, have separated data across different systems, making it hard to access all the data, let alone keep track of a member’s history within the organisation. This can lead to confusion and missed opportunities, as it’s hard to approach members in a targeted way if you don’t have all the information readily to hand. An advanced CRM has greater capacity to hold, sort and glean insights from your data, enabling you to really make the most of what your members are ‘telling’ you with every interaction you have with them.
The challenge of managing member data
Managing all this data in a way that is efficient and accurate can make all the difference both to organisation employees and to the membership experience. On the organisation side, no one wants to waste time inputting data if it can be reliably automated. On the member side, no one wants to be on the receiving end of poor customer service as a result of slow, faltering, or inaccurate comms, which is what can happen when the CRM is not up to task. Of course, members won’t know it’s the CRM at fault. They will blame the organisation.
So why do membership organisations often struggle with their CRM? What’s going wrong?
The problem with bespoke CRMs
Many membership organisations – but particularly the long-established ones – operate bespoke CRM systems that were designed especially for their purpose. This can prove to be a challenge in the long-term as the organisation evolves and the CRM ages. How do you get a bespoke CRM to grow with you?
Often, the CRM is designed to meet a specific brief, but over time a number of variables come into play. Hardware evolves. Other, interlinked software is upgraded. The old programme doesn’t remain compatible with new ways of working. The organisation that developed the software for you disappears or changes hands and can no longer provide tech support. The membership organisation itself changes so drastically that a new CRM is required.
These changes are like cracks spreading through the CRM, rendering it unstable. Glitchy software puts your data at risk of security breaches and technical issues. And if your CRM lacks the capabilities to support your needs, you can find your organisation’s growth and development is limited to ‘the way things have always been done’.
The potential of advanced CRM systems
This is why we would advise working with an advanced CRM provider that has the flexibility to tailor to your needs with the backup of global, high-quality support and an established backbone of tech to underpin your operations. This type of CRM can be designed to your specifications, with the fields, processes and workflows required to support your requirements, within the scope of a system that is regularly and automatically updated to the latest spec, and which is designed to integrate with your other core tools.
The additional benefit of advanced CRM systems is the potential offered by Business Process Automation and Robotic Process Automation to reduce the workload and keep on top of day-to-day data management. Things like responding to member enquiries, updating contact details, chasing renewals, etc can all be managed automatically, ensuring your system runs more efficiently, and optimising your operations.