During challenging times we need to ensure our membership schemes are optimised and exceed expectations way beyond the delivery of positive outputs (initiatives) and outcomes (benefits received). In our latest Blog article we explore the idea of ‘starting again’ and the benefits this can bring…
Membership schemes that are fit for the future will enable simple, straight-forward, secure, seamless and online entry (for those eligible) and quick/convenient renewals ideally via opt-out subscription payment methods. As association and membership professionals it is our responsibility to ensure our schemes are ‘fit for the future’ and that they enable entry/renewal anytime, anyplace, anywhere. This is now a growing member expectation and not simply ‘nice to have’ operational functionality.
If our schemes don’t deliver on this expectation the impact could be terminal in some cases. New member acquisition will be reduced, retention will not be optimized and we haven’t even gone near member engagement and value yet! So, if a change is needed how do we action this? Where should we start? What process should we follow? Well, our re-launched peer reviewed Perfect Membership Scheme? Advice sheet is a robust starting point. It will provide you with key considerations to make prior to potential changes/developments. Take a look…
It’s always good to learn from fellow membership professionals who have conducted such activity so we caught up with Sabina Baba, Membership and Grants Manager at the Society of Experimental Biology, who has recently made some significant changes to her scheme.
What is the Society of Experimental Biology?
The Society for Experimental Biology (SEB) is an international membership society for those studying, practicing, or with an interest in all areas of experimental biology.
Based in London, the Society has over 2400 members worldwide and delivers its support to the biological community through its three scientific sections (Animal, Plant and Cell) as well as an Education Section which offers career support to young scientists through career training and skills based workshops.
In addition the SEB organise around 3-5 scientific conferences per year with the main one attracting up to 900 delegates from all corners of the world, and publishes four world class journals.
Why did you decide to change your membership scheme?
SEB’s membership scheme was quite dated and as the needs of our members changed the scheme also required updating to be in line with this.
SEB’s membership was set to run on a fixed subscription basis (from 1st of October to 30th of September) and regardless of the time of the year members joined their subscription started on 1st October and ended on 30 September. The SEB also did not offer a pro-rata option due to the structure of their member benefits.
We received quite a lot of enquiries from members about the fact that they were asked to renew their membership earlier than 1 year and also about the fact that their subscription was backdated to start on 1st of October and we were aware that we are not meeting their needs.
We therefore embarked on a change to a rolling subscription model as part of a bigger project which was looking at improving our service to members. Due to the administrative requirements of managing a rolling renewal model we were aware that the Society needed a new CRM system in place to make this as automated as possible and reduce administration, but also to enable us to adapt our membership services to best meet our members’ needs. The CRM implementation process and the implementation of the rolling renewal process were therefore carried out in parallel which was quite a challenge!
How long did it take to implement the changes?
From start to finish the implementation process took approximately 1 year. This involved a robust approach to reviewing all our renewal communications as well as the member journey to make the membership processes as smooth as possible not only for the members but also for staff.
Sabina will lead a review session on her membership scheme transition journey at our national conference, Membership Excellence 2015, on 11th March 2015 at the Holiday Inn Bloomsbury, London. In her keynote session Sabina will provide critical considerations to be made before moving from one scheme type to another, review how she successfully planned, implemented and reviewed the process in a robust manner and the benefits her organisation and its members are now experiencing.