Every association aims to provide a unique set of value propositions for its members. Thus, we choose unique tools and technologies that we think will differentiate us.
But it’s not your technology that makes you unique.
It's the products and seamless experiences that you provide through your technology that drives member satisfaction.
People joke about this at conferences all the time: if you've seen one association, you've seen them all. Yes, maybe 85% or 90% of what associations do is the same, but every association is fighting to differentiate itself because there's a competitor association or the Google machine where members can find better information than they can get from the association.
The problem with the currently available technology solutions is that selecting specialized, “best-of-breed” systems creates unique integration challenges. Undoubtedly, the challenges of making these various platforms in the association ecosystem work together to create a frictionless digital experience for members are enormous.
This guide walks through the obstacles and opportunities for creating smoother transitions for members across their digital journey. We’ll cover how you can provide a more seamless member experience across platforms and devices through technology and process integrations.
There are a variety of user experience challenges that you may face depending on how you’re integrating your systems to engage and service members.
Too often organizations set up technology integrations to just “make things work” without putting members first, and this approach inadvertently creates awkward digital experiences.
But you have to think about your members because they are the ones who have to use these fragmented systems that are not well bonded. Just consider all the friction that's created out there when members struggle to navigate your technology platforms. We call this ‘the tip of the spear’.
In reality, associations today face a HUGE user experience challenge. It’s not uncommon to go to an association website and have to use multiple log-ins to get to different parts of the site or different tools. If a member wants to purchase a book or sign-up for an event, they often have to log in to different portals. This is far from ideal and frustrating for members to navigate.
Anybody who comes to an association website or interacts with the technology brings a whole set of expectations that comes from their experience in the consumer world.
As consumers, we expect to push a button on our phone and have a car show up at the curb. Or we expect groceries to be delivered in just two hours. We want a frictionless experience that requires minimal effort as well as a high level of trust, protection, and privacy in our association experience as well.
The problem with the lack of integration is quite apparent when, for example, the Event Management Software isn’t integrated with the CRM/AMS.
Consider this scenario: a member shows up to an event, signs up for sessions, and discovers that a session presenter has a book on sale that the member wants to buy.
But since the events platform isn’t well connected to the AMS, then the member’s information may not be auto-filled when purchasing the book. So the member may think, how come your system doesn’t recognize me?
I’m at your event. I've attended this session. And I’ve been a member for 10 years. How could you not know me?
When an association has a non-integrated events system or learning system, for example, that doesn't have all the data from the AMS, it’s almost like going to the doctor and having to fill out all those darn forms over and over again.
Someone that has been a member of an organization for years expects the organization to know their address, how to communicate with them, and what their preferences are for social media, for example. That's where the rubber meets the road on the user experience side.
There's a lot of conversations about member journey mapping and how to create a more unified digital experience for members. Having non-integrated systems that cause an interrupted member journey is also a factor when your CEO can’t get the data they need for decision making.
Best-of-breed systems that are used by associations often have their own unique interfaces, which aren’t always standardized for single sign-on (SSO; i.e. automatic login) or for consistent branding.
Consistency can be achieved by implementing the same branding policy and templates across all channels, interfaces, and interactions.
You can even go as far as to put the same user-experience design features on each of your systems to unify the multi-platform digital journey even further. That way, from the user perspective, it looks as though you’re on the exact same site, regardless of whether you’re using a mobile device or desktop computer.
By creating the appearance of uniformity and responsiveness across platforms and devices, you can facilitate faster, more human-centric, and more proactive member engagement with your organization across the entire path-to-purchase, path-to-renewal, path-to-engagement, or whatever it may be.
The association industry is working to develop better solutions to accomplish the necessary system integrations so we can create meaningful cross-platform digital experiences for members.
With the need for more integrated member experiences, it’s worthwhile for association CEOs and CIOs to discuss your current platforms and digital journey, and whether there’s a better strategy to make transitions smoother in the future. Coming to a common understanding about how to best create a holistic member experience will create brand loyalty and keep your members coming back for more.
Making use of association integration solutions that are flexible and easy-to-leverage will drive greater efficiency and allow you to transform your multi-channel touchpoints into a fluid “omnichannel” digital member journey. Better member experiences and satisfaction, in turn, often translates into better engagement with your organization.
Read our full article on The Association Integration Problem: Where We Are & Where We’re Headed to learn more about integration issues from the C-suite perspective and explore up-and-coming solutions to bring your disjointed systems out of silos.