How membership organisations can deliver a better experience through the cloudRob Metcalf
There’s a small difference that has a big impact for membership organisations; a subtlety that sets them apart from other businesses: Customers.
In a typical organisation, your customer simply purchases your goods/services. But in a membership organisation, they also sign up for the right to be affiliated with your organisation and feel like they belong to the tribe. They are proud to display the letters after their name and/or wear their badge with honour. It’s what transforms a ‘customer‘ into a ‘member‘.
But when members are paying to belong, their expectations are far higher because the service you provide is now directly associated to their pride and reputation.
The challenge comes when member organisations focus too heavily on ‘engagement‘ rather than ‘experience‘. When you create a deeper level of engagement with a customer, they’re more likely to purchase from you and demonstrate long-term loyalty. But members are inherently engaged – they’ve paid to belong to your community. Therefore the emphasis has to transform so it focuses on the whole experience of how it feels to be a member – that’s how you strengthen that sense of pride and belonging, and ultimately what earns you a solid reputation and builds your membership base.
The problem with businesses today is
There’s a disconnect that exists within organisations where the high-level vision of what the business wants to deliver, differs to the reality of what they’re able to offer.
But it’s not intentional. We all set out on a mission to deliver the best service we possibly can because we know that makes our customers/members happy, which is ultimately good for business. And yet so often we fall short, because;
- Something isn’t delivered on time.
- There’s over-run on the budget.
- Issues are passed from person to person with an unsatisfactory outcome.
- Promises are broken.
- Customers/members are left questioning – “Am I doing the right thing?”
Usually this disconnect can be resolved by tracing back to the methodology we as a managed cloud service provider focus on; namely, people, process and technology.
Sometimes we jump into business-as-usual mode, but unless you’ve taken the time to build these solid foundations for your business, eventually everything will start to tumble – despite your best intentions.
Deliver a better experience through the cloud
Membership organisations exist to push their industry forward, exploring new innovations, sharing best practice and setting the agenda for the future of the industry. But in focusing so heavily on the mission, they fail to maintain their ‘behind the scenes’ to the same standard.
One of our clients, The Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS), is the world’s only professional body dedicated to the entire aerospace community. It is now true to its mission, joining the ranks of other membership organisations who have embraced a ‘cloud-first’ strategy to display technology leadership and deliver an enhanced service to its members. As they explained:
In the same way the RAeS provides expertise to the aerospace community, we were looking for an IT services company that would take the lead in helping us deploy the appropriate technology, especially cyber security, while taking our budget restrictions as a not-for-profit organisation into account
Emma Bossom, RAeS Director, Programmes and Marketing
You can read more about The Royal Aeronautical Society’s digital transformation here.
By migrating your traditional IT infrastructure from on-premise to the cloud, it instantly transforms your business and the way you’re able to interact and service your clients.
In today’s modern world our lives are ruled by digital. And while that has numerous benefits, it also attracts cyber criminals who are looking for any opportune moment to profit. But through a cloud-first modern architecture, the highest security protocols are in-built as standard, which means you can better protect your members’ data, and use it in the optimal way to their benefit.
In addition, cloud provides the much-needed agility that enables you to pivot and access the resources you need quickly and easily to deliver a better service to your clients. And with built-in permissions, access control and version history/activity logs, it enables you to adhere to governance and industry guidelines with ease.
But perhaps the biggest draw of a cloud-based approach is the cost savings. Unlike on-premise hardware, which requires substantial capital investment and ongoing maintenance costs, a cloud-first infrastructure works on a subscription-based model. It means that you only pay for what you use, and it scales seamlessly in-line with the requirements of your organisation. For member organisations who are often operating in the not-for-profit sector, being able to account for every penny spent is crucial. Through the cloud you gain this visibility and can therefore offer greater transparency to your members over where their money is being spent.
The problem with the cloud is
Most organisations use the cloud today, but it’s usually a few apps and platforms used here and there to fulfil a specific purpose. For example, using Dropbox to share files, Xero to manage your accounting or Salesforce to track your pipeline. It works and for a time you’re happy…
But then you realise it’s missing some functionality that would be really useful, or you’re restricted on licenses so not everyone can access the platform, then someone doesn’t like it and starts using their preferred app – so now you have duplicate systems, and nothing’s talking to each other to share data effectively.
It becomes a living nightmare as your employees battle to find constant manual workarounds, which saps their morale and productivity – not to mention that you’re signing off on all these monthly fees while questioning what you’re actually getting for this investment.
At some point everyone reaches breaking point and decides that “enough is enough, we’re going to have to seriously consider a cloud-first strategy.” Call that embarking on a digital transformation project if you will. What you are doing is aligning your business objectives with your IT strategy, so your IT road map can actually help drive business goals, instead of just being a budget line.
In fact, 80% of organisations have embarked on their journey towards digital transformation, and yet very few are achieving the desired outcome.
Because either they don’t have the right people with the right skills to make it happen. They’ve not thought through the process and how to account for the cultural changes required to make a digital transformation possible. Or they lack the knowledge and understanding of what technologies are available and how they work together…
It’s back to our favourite methodology: people, process and technology.
Commit to continuous improvement to optimise the experience. Economic advantages of the cloud
When you adopt a cloud-first strategy where every part of your infrastructure is driven by the power of the cloud, rather than clinging to single apps, you have the critical success factors in place to build a strong organisation that can better serve its members:
- People: senior managers ensure greater collaboration between units.
- Process: standard operating procedures include new digital technologies.
- Technology: digital tools make information more accessible across the organisation.
Discover more about digital transformation.
Unless you have the specialist skills in-house, you’re going to need to enlist the help of an experienced partner. We’ve seen a lot of organisations spin something up in the cloud, and most of them get very excited when they see those initial productivity savings. But once they hype has subsided, they’re back to the problem with the cloud – paying monthly fees while questioning what you’re getting for the investment.
For cloud to deliver a lucrative return, and to ensure it enables you to continue offering the best level of service, you need to continuously optimise that cloud infrastructure – which is where we can help.
Our team boasts some of the industry’s highest certifications and qualifications when it comes to cloud computing. And because cloud is our business, we’re continuously investing in keeping up-to-date with the latest technologies by trying and testing them for ourselves. We know what works best in different scenarios, how to integrate different technologies, the required cultural changes to make the transformational changes stick…
And we can monitor your cloud infrastructure and show you what to tweak in order to continually optimise and improve your operations, all while retaining full visibility over that spend and making better use of your membership fees.
Whatever your vision, we can help you build the solid foundations to make it a reality. Contact us to discuss how.