Even the most seasoned professionals at membership-based organizations can have blind spots when it comes to anticipating member needs. The best way to cater to your membership base’s desires and preferences is to ask them directly — but it isn’t that simple. Membership professionals need to request, collect, and implement member feedback strategically. Otherwise, you might be left with incomplete insights and a lack of direction for your improvements.

In this guide, we’ll review how membership-based organizations like yours can optimize your feedback cadence to boost member satisfaction, secure revenue, and grow your community over time. 

Why is collecting member feedback so important?

Offering and putting effort into your feedback mechanisms allows your membership-based organization to improve your operations and achieve your goals. However, you can also see these other key benefits of implementing member feedback cadences:

  • Member loyalty and satisfaction. Displaying genuine transparency and respect for your members’ opinions (and implementing beneficial changes to the member experience!) boosts satisfaction, helping you upgrade memberships in turn.
  • Innovative ideas. When you work with the same team for a long time, it’s easy to become comfortable doing things the way you’ve always done them. Asking members for ideas empowers you to innovate your current processes with fresh perspectives.
  • Membership marketing opportunities. Potential members want to know that your community respects them and values their ideas about improving the organization. Offering an organized and effective feedback mechanism is a great benefit for you to leverage in membership marketing ideas and collateral.

Best Practices for Collecting Member Feedback

Set the foundation of your feedback cadence by optimizing how you collect member insights. Follow these tips for a comprehensive, yet straightforward feedback collection process:

  • Use logical communication channels. Distribute and manage feedback using channels that your members already leverage to make giving input convenient and accessible for them. For instance, if you have a younger audience, you might use a member-facing app to collect feedback, whereas an older membership base might prefer using the phone or direct mail. 
  • Incentivize member participation. The more members who give feedback, the more comprehensive and useful your results will be. While you can’t perfectly predict how many members will participate, providing incentives such as a small piece of branded merchandise or the chance to win a gift card can go a long way in increasing turnout and showing members your appreciation.
  • Establish a regular cadence. There is always room for improvement, so why not give your members the chance to give feedback regularly? Allow members to submit feedback on a monthly or quarterly basis so they have plenty of opportunities to collect their thoughts.
  • Leverage reporting technology. Ensure your member management toolkit includes software solutions that can amalgamate member responses to surveys and other feedback mechanisms. For example, if you provide a multiple-choice question, reporting software can show how many members voted for each option in an organized bar graph format, allowing you to analyze the data more easily.

During this stage, assess your current feedback collection tactics by analyzing past response rates and the extent to which members responded. These measures can speak volumes about how engaging and accessible your existing methods are so you know where to start improving. 

Best Practices for Addressing Member Feedback

While making all of your members’ wishes come true is ideal, you’ll need to pick and choose which responses are most helpful for your organization — especially if you have hundreds of members submitting feedback every month. Follow these tips to assess and communicate member suggestions:

  • Communicate expectations. Since you’ll be collecting feedback about many different issues, you should communicate expectations to members so you’ll be more likely to get responses you can use. For instance, you can put prompts on the feedback form so members know exactly what they should speak to. 
  • Organize a review team. By assigning roles and responsibilities through a formal feedback review board, you’ll ensure that no stone is left unturned when it comes to reviewing feedback in a timely manner. 
  • Establish standard criteria. You might have feedback topics ranging anywhere from updating your website to your membership benefits. Standardize your criteria for assessing the feasibility of each piece of feedback. Answer these questions for each suggestion from a member:
      • How urgent is this feedback or suggestion?
      • How easily can we act on this feedback?
      • Do we have the budget to implement this feedback?
      • Who will this change impact?
      • Are there any drawbacks to implementing this feedback?
      • Do we need to deprioritize any other initiatives to make this change happen?
  • Use a constructive lens. When responding to member feedback, use a constructive lens to explain your rationale for or against certain ideas. Here is an example of a nonconstructive response versus a constructive one regarding the addition of a member-led management board:
    • Nonconstructive response: This is a bad idea that we can’t prioritize.
    • Constructive response: This idea isn’t feasible for now given our organization’s priorities. Currently, we’re allocating resources toward our upcoming conference, but we can revisit this idea once we have the bandwidth.

Best Practices for Implementing Member Feedback

Now that you have your top feedback ideas, it’s time to implement them. To get started, try these tips:

  • Develop an action plan. Much like you form strategic plans for large initiatives, make a smaller action plan for each piece of feedback. Be as detailed as possible when assigning roles and creating a timeline.
  • Measure and share progress. Members want to understand why changes are being made and what impacts to expect. Stay transparent throughout the rollout process by communicating progress to members.
  • Create feedback loops. In your regular feedback assessment meetings, review changes you’ve implemented previously and gauge their effects. Plan any adjustments needed to cater to your members’ evolving needs.

It’ll take time before you master this cadence. However, it’s meant to be cyclical, so you can pivot when necessary and continue with your best foot forward. Ultimately, by paying attention to member feedback, you can achieve your mission of strengthening your program and member benefits.