Online Member Services Best Practices (Part 2 of 2)

Lori Halley 18 October 2007 0 comments

In the first part of this series, I shared some tips on how to use the web to provide self-service options to your members. With that first post I wanted to start laying out the most common functions and facilities under the general umbrella of online member services - and some recommendations. In this post, I'm going to point out and provide recommendations for five best practice approaches to providing online services.

But before I get started - I wanted to ask you again for your feedback - what are your thoughts and experiences with online member services? What did you find saves the most time for your staff? What is the biggest pain in the neck with your current technology setup? What do your members find of most use? What do prospective members ask for even though sometimes they never get around to using?

So here are five more best practice approaches to providing online services:

1. Online activity history

Provide a self-serve portal for your members/donors/volunteers to securely access their own history of key interactions with your organization - donations, renewals, event registrations, etc.

2. Provide a searchable member directory

Develop and maintain an online member directory which can include contact details, descriptive text, photos,  links, direct contact functionality and more.

Recommendations:

  • For each contact in your directory, include ample contact info, such as email address, home and work phone numbers, mailing address, and more
  • Allow members to update their own profiles (or your directory can quickly get out of date and thus useless)
  • Ensure that you follow all applicable privacy laws, e.g. make sure that each person can easily control his inclusion into the directory and what pieces of information are shared.

3. Discussion Forums

A forum is a great way to share information and seek feedback from members on topics related to your organization, pose questions to each other or just share their opinions.

Recommendations:

  • Assign  community moderators - people who will start the initial dialog until you get the critical mass, monitor appropriate online behavior
  • Pay attention to security issues - if your forum is open to public registration it might be targeted by malicious parties to spread spam and malware. make sure your forum software is secure and up to date.
  • Provide the ability for people to receive updates via email (daily and/or weekly)

4. Online store

Online shopping enhances your members’ experience by offering a secure, reliable way to purchase items, online shopping represents a significant opportunity for non-profits to enhance their services and generate additional revenue. Offer member-only deals through your regular online shopping site with special promotional codes.

    5. Online self-service capability to renew and upgrade membership 

    This has to be properly implemented - to be secure AND easy to use (not a small deal), but can save you tons of time instead of dealing with an avalanche of emails and faxes. Implement online payment with credit cards.

    And members will surely appreciate the convenience of being able to renew immediately when they thought of it, even if it is midnight Saturday!


     

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    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Published Thursday, 18 October 2007 at 8:00 AM

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