Think of some of the best customer service experiences you’ve ever had. What did you like about those moments? Did they offer proactive service? Did they make you feel welcome and satisfied? Chances are, you admire the companies and organizations that provide exemplary customer service.
Interacting with your trade or professional association should offer the same feelings of fulfillment via customer service practices.
Members see their association as their safe place; they want to speak to someone who not only answers their questions but who treats them with respect.
Before entering the association management world, I spent time working in call centers as well as in one of the happiest theme parks on Earth. Customer service was an integral part of my training, and those experiences serve as a vital part of my current role as senior association coordinator for the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP).
While sometimes challenging, exercising top customer service skills allow your membership team to become a great asset to your association and its members, creating positive interactions that drive member satisfaction and retention.
Listed below are my top tips to improve customer service skills.
1. Anticipate Customer Needs
Over the last three years with OSAP, I’ve noticed the kinds of questions our members commonly ask. Detecting some themes, I crafted a frequently asked questions section of our member guide as well as email templates to provide more efficient assistance to our members.
Creating these resources might sound like a time-consuming effort. Not so fast: if your AMC uses an association management system (AMS), building an array of personalized email templates is rather easy to do. An AMS syncs with your organization’s member database to pull any required member fields into the message – creating a customizable email template.
2. Be Kind and Personable
Nowadays, the internet is filled with articles about negative customer service experiences. The best way to avoid any type of negative customer service experience is kindness. Just being nice to people makes a world of difference.
Membership staff should go the extra mile in these interactions and show their human side. Use members’ first names in conversation and recognize any volunteer/community efforts for the betterment of your association.
While this seems like a no-brainer, answering questions and holding conversations with members takes time and practice – which pays off.
3. Listen and Keep Your Word
Actively listen to the person on the other end of the phone. People can tell when you aren’t actively listening to them – even when they can’t see you. I find it helpful to take notes during the call, so I don’t miss anything, or worse, forget something.
Keep your word. One trick I use when I need to call someone back is to put a reminder on my calendar to follow through. When we get delayed in finding information to help a member, we send a quick email to let them know it’s still at the forefront of our minds and that we hope to have the answer soon.
Maintaining trust keeps our members engaged.
4. Take Your Time
Sometimes, members have complicated questions or require more thorough attention. Don’t rush through the answer. When a member can’t find something on the website, we walk them through the website and guide them through the process of finding what they’re looking for. Sending screenshots in an email is a great way to provide visual aids, too.
Elevate this tip to the next level and follow up with the member a couple of weeks later to make sure things are still going well for them.
Taking additional time to make sure members get the best answer possible keeps members coming back.
5. Ask Questions
Sometimes, members don’t fully articulate their questions or concerns, and we can’t always provide them with the help they need. The best membership teams don’t assume what their member wants; instead, they aren’t afraid to ask questions to provide better service. Members appreciate that we’re trying to see things from their perspective to offer a solution aptly.
6. Love What You Do
The most important thing in a team providing customer service is to love what they do. They know and believe in the vision, mission, and values of your association. Upholding the importance of your association will come through their interactions with members and provide excellent customer service experience.
Ultimately, customer service is the support your AMC offers to your members – before and after they become part of your association. Meeting Expectations prides itself on delivering professional association management services. Contact us today to learn more.