Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Communicating with absent, paying members : Part 2, How?

Hopefully you now understand that contacting your absent members is a good move.  The next question is how to contact them…

There are lots of ways of communicating with individual members; a phone call, text, e-mail or good old-fashioned letter, as well as direct social media messages (if configured correctly*).

The phone call is proven to be the best way of persuading members to come back into your club.  However, it can be hard work and is time consuming.  We’ll discuss who makes the calls in the next article, but here’s how to make it easier.

Once you've decided when you’re going to call the member (e.g. after 4 weeks of absence), send them a message the week before.  Depending on your systems and the member’s details, this could be a text, e-mail, or letter.  While messages alone are less effective than calls, you will increase the overall effectiveness three ways:

  1. Reduce number of calls to make 
  2. Warm up call (easier to make the call)
  3. Make call more effective

A few members will return because of the message, so you don’t need to call them.  The call is now easier to make, as you are following-up the message.  And the call is now the second contact you've made, so it will have more influence on the member.

We’ll come back to the script and training for making the call, but for now, know what happens next…

  • If the member doesn't return, will they get another (type of) message, and then another call?  
  • If you left a voice-mail, how soon will you try again (at another time of day)?  
  • How long will you keep trying to get the absent member back (for ever)?

Many systems can help you to identify absent members, some will even send the messages out for you.  Be sure that you change the messages regularly (we recommend every month) to keep them personalised, and link them to your club promotions and events.  You should also monitor and measure the success rates of messages and calls.

Some budget clubs and local authorities just send messages to absent members, as they don’t have the resource to make the calls.  The process is the same, but different rules apply, and it can still persuade members to return.

Call your absent members to coax them back, but also use the other contact details they gave you to increase the chance of keeping them as members.  Next we'll look at who should be making the calls.

* For example, if a member follows your club account on twitter and you have their details, you can send a direct message (dm) tweet (a private message only to them)

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