Wednesday, April 25, 2012

ATTENTION ASSOCIATIONS: Who is Answering Your Incoming Calls?

Depending on the size of your association, probably a receptionist or a team designated to answer incoming calls. Right?

A more important question for today: Who is answering when your members or prospects are “calling your association” via Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn or Pinterest? Anyone? Everyone? No one?

Does your association have a chief listening officer? If not, why not?

Inc. recently ran an article titled Make Room for the Chief Customer Officer.
  • Inc. says the Chief Customer Officer has one key responsibility: “to ensure that the customer is taken into consideration at all times, in all departments, and in all major decisions.”
  • Well, shouldn’t someone in your association have that role for members? Is it your membership director? Is that person part of your executive team? Does he or she have influence over all departments and major decisions?
What a great story and message for associations and member-centric organizations.

It parallels my thinking about the need for a “chief listening officer (CLO)” for your association. The CLO is the key staff member assigned the role of “reflecting in” ... the person who monitors what is being said (via social media, regular media, comments on your blog, etc.) about your association. In addition to monitoring messages, the CLO should synthesize those comments and messages and ensure that association leaders become aware. The CLO should also have the authority/responsibility to initiate instant responses when needed.
• As I noted in When does an Unanswered Lie become the Truth? neither you nor your association has the luxury to wait on excessive approvals before responding.

When I first “joined” Twitter, I remember how surprised I was when the Arbor Day Foundation started following me 17 minutes after I tweeted a link to a story about them.

It made me realize that the growth of social media meant associations and other nonprofit organizations need to devote resources to listen to what was being said about them and develop strategies on how to engage with people talking about them.

In a session with six mommy bloggers last November, one said she researched companies online. If she had a question, she tweeted it to them. If they didn’t reply, she went on without them. Result: a missed opportunity. Or, perhaps erroneous information shared with thousands of others.

Here are some related blog posts on this topic.
If you have not yet created a “chief listening officer,” why not? How long would you survive if you didn’t answer the phones?

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