Managing Member Expectations

To a certain extent, we all have expectations about things, and your members are no different. They expect certain benefits from your organization and a certain level of service. (Yup, we’re all in the customer service business.)

So the trick then is managing those expectations. You don’t always know what your members are thinking or expecting, so it’s up to you to set the bar.

Below are just a few tips for managing member expectations (so you ALL remain happy):

1. Be clear in your communications

When you don’t have exact information for things – for example, an exact date or an exact schedule – it can be tempting to want to use fluff language. But that can lead to trouble because fluff language is often vague and open to interpretation.

To avoid confusion, be very clear in your communications. If you don’t know something (for example, the speaker lineup at your annual meeting), be absolutely transparent about that. While it may not thrill people to not have all the information they want, that’s definitely better than having them think one thing that simply isn’t true.

2. Steer on the side of underpromising and overdelivering

When you’re absolutely sure of something, then by all means, communicate that. But if there’s even a slight chance that you may not be able to deliver on something, it’s better to steer on the side of caution. In other words, underpromising and overdelivering.  

Think about it: If you tell someone you’ll do something in the next 24 hours, but it takes you a week, that person is likely to be pretty frustrated. They were expecting one day, at the most. But on the flip side, if you tell them you’ll do something in a week, but then you actually complete it in the next 24 hours, they’re likely to be pleasantly surprised. (A much better scenario.)

Now this is NOT to say that you should lie to people so that they’ll always be pleasantly surprised. Making claims and following through is a best practice, overall. But, if there is a chance you may not be able to deliver on a certain promise, give yourself a buffer so no one gets upset.

3. Don’t be afraid of overcommunicating

It’s easy to think if we said something one or two times, that’s it – the word is out there. But while that would be nice, it’s often not the case. People don’t always read our emails or login to their member profiles. Therefore, if a message is really important (for example, the date of something changed or the location of an event changed), it’s better to overcommunicate than it is to undercommunicate.

You’ll have to use your best judgement in terms of how much is enough (every case is different), but generally speaking, the more important the message, the more times it needs to be communicated (and the more outlets that need to be utilized).

4. Deliver wow moments when you can

You should always be looking for opportunities to wow your members. That doesn’t mean you have to perform some grand gesture. In fact, it’s often the little things that people remember and appreciate the most.

Surprise your members with a candy bar in the hallway(s) of your annual meeting. Or leave little treats and/or notes on the tables of your session rooms. (I attended a conference once that had mason jars with gummy bears and chocolate on each table. Definitely kept me alert in those sessions!) Not only will this make them smile right then and there, but they’ll be much more likely to be forgiving should there be any issues with expectations down the road.

Keeping your members happy means keeping your members around. For several tips, best practices, AND communications templates regarding member retention, check out our free Retention Kit below!