Customer experience

What Is Member Experience & Why Does It Matter?

AskNicely Team

What Is Member Experience & Why Does It Matter? 

From the very moment a customer hears about your service business, to the moment they hand over their card to pay, to all the moments thereafter – thousands of micro actions, thoughts and behaviors take place. 

The combination of these customer touchpoints are known as Member Experience. Member experience is akin to customer experience, and looks specifically at customers who sign up to be a member with your business, where loyalty is key.

For example, customers who join a gym, a credit union, or join a platinum airline membership. Zooming in (or zooming out if you’re stuck in the weeds today) on member experience helps service brands differentiate themselves from competitors, create value, build member loyalty and member lifetime value.

Why Membership Experience is Important

Who has the power? Your members do. In today’s highly competitive market, competitive edge is gained through member experience, rather than the products or services provided. In fact, research from PWC found that 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great member experience. If your experience is anything short of awesome, customers simply move on to find another solution.

Membership Experience is important because it helps you differentiate your brand. Say you’re on a New Year fitness buzz, and you’ve decided to sign up for a gym membership. You’ve narrowed it down to two options — Gym A and Gym B. Both have the same quality of equipment, great location and similar pricing. You decide to go with Gym A, because you met with a membership consultant and they were really helpful, friendly and knowledgeable (go frontline team!). 

You then find out that the length of the application form could wrap around your body ten times. You get frustrated, lose interest and begin to consider other options. This bump in the road explains why considering membership experience is so important. It’s about learning what’s important to your members, and fine-tuning your experience around that. 

When you nail your member experience, it: 

  1. Promotes membership retention.

    If you’ve had a great experience with a brand, it’s likely you’ll stick around.

  2. Motivates members to be more engaged.

    When you understand your members – their wants, needs and desires, you can create experiences that resonate with them, which leads to a more engaged member-base. 
  1. Creates advocates out of your members.

    Word of mouth marketing is priceless. According to Nielsen, 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family over any other type of advertising. When you create a winning experience, your members go on to sing your praises. 

What Defines an Awesome Member Experience?

A member’s experience speaks to each member’s practical and emotional needs. Let’s revisit your experience choosing between gyms for a moment - remember that lovely membership consultant who swayed you into picking Gym A? That’s an emotional need. The extremely long application form that you didn’t want to fill out? That’s practical. A great member experience is one that carefully meets the emotional and practical needs and expectations of your customers. It needs to be: 

  1. Streamlined: Forget lengthy application forms and wait times. Your process needs to be smooth and roadblock free.

  2. Personalized: Your job is to create an experience that makes members feel cared for. What personal touches can you add along with ways that make your members feel especially looked after?

  3. Based on What Matters Most to Your Members: A great member experience is one that meets the needs and expectations of your members. To deliver consistently awesome experiences, you need to know what is most important to them. 

Tips for Creating Effective Member Experiences

Let’s get down to the practicalities. How do you actually go about creating a winning member experience? Here are the key stages:

  1. Enrollment
  2. Engagement
  3. Benefits
  4. Renewal

Enrollment: 

Enrollment is a big moment for your members. It’s like a mini marriage, symbolizing a level of commitment and trust. If the sign up process has too many barriers, potential members may get cold feet. 

Here are some ways to make the enrollment process easier: 

  • Make your first impression count. Train your membership consultants on ways to make sparks fly in the first interactions between your brand and your members.

  • Figure out what matters to your members. What do they value the most when enrolling? You can use surveys and customer feedback to get these answers.

  • Make enrollment forms available on multiple channels.

  • Minimize the amount of information required for membership.

  • Optimize design for accessibility and ease.

  • Coach frontline staff to deliver on member enrollment needs and expectations.

Engagement: 

Once your member has signed, the work begins. Just like a marriage. Member engagement is about building and nurturing relationships with your members to keep them interested and impressed with your brand. For example, a gym may engage its members through workout events, email communications, membership consultant check-ins and new class orientations.

Be sure to organize and use data strategically to find out who your members are and what they care about, leverage feedback tools to find out what your members want and utilize AI and CRM tools to provide highly personalized experiences. 
Benefits:

Everyone loves a benefit. Whether it’s a freebie, an exclusive deal or reward system, members enjoy receiving bonuses that go above and beyond their initial expectations. Benefits serve three main purposes: 1) attract new members 2) engage existing members and 3) promote renewals. 

There are many membership benefits you can offer, including: 

  • Online member community
  • Exclusive industry specific offers
  • Virtual events
  • Freebies
  • Social opportunities
  • Refer a friend rewards and discounts 

The key? Understand what benefits your members love. Through collecting member feedback, you may find that your customers loved the free drink bottle they received upon enrollment, or you may find their virtual events don’t add much value. Use member sentiment to craft the most impactful benefit systems into your member experience. 

Renewal:

At any point during a member’s experience, they can choose to cancel, and go with another provider.  Members need to feel an emotional connection, and see a clear value, in order to renew their membership. 

Here are some strategies for boosting member retention: 

  1. Automate the renewal process: a streamlined member experience is one that is automated, efficient and easy.

  2. Offer discounts for early renewals: A financial, or other form of incentive can help customers who are on the fence renew their membership.

  3. Demonstrate ROI: What’s in it for your members? While they pay a monetary sum, focus on what they get back. Eg. A gym membership may cost $20 a week, but in return the member gets to live a healthier lifestyle, prevent health complications and can feel better in their mental and physical wellbeing. Make sure these benefits and your brand USPs are communicated effectively.

  4. Leverage data to meet individual needs: Analyze the data, and personalize experiences. You may find one customer segment gets a lot of value out of membership consultant check ins, while another segment may find them annoying. Fine tune your membership experience around clear data and feedback. 

To Wrap Up: 

The more you optimize your member experience, the stronger and more loyal your member base becomes. With increasing product and service competition, differentiating through experience is a must. 

Member experience management helps you to understand what matters the most to your members and helps you build a streamlined, personalized and accessible experience for all. 

As a credit union, First Commonwealth knows member experience is what brings customers through their doors, and keeps them there. Click here to read about how they invested in the member experience, and started receiving love letters from their customers. 

AskNicely Team
About the author

AskNicely Team

AskNicely Team
About the author

AskNicely Team

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