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Instrumentation and Operationalization – The 8 Elements of Member Success Management

Elements 1 – 6 ( Segmentation, Orchestration, Measurement, Intervention, Expansion, and Communication) really don’t require much technology or engineering work. Certainly, everything we’ve mentioned can be greatly enhanced by leveraging technology, but it really doesn’t require it.

But the final two elements of Member Success are where we start bringing technology into the mix.

Far too many companies jump to buying a purpose-built Member Success Management software product assuming it’ll fix any problems they have, give them the structure they need, etc.

But just like any other part of your business, if you select a piece of software without knowing what it is you’re trying to operationalize, you’ll end up building your strategy around the capabilities of that software.

Figure out what you need first, then find the solution that you think fits that model. Sure, you may not be 100% right out of the gate, but you’ll be a lot closer to where you need to be if you work in that direction.

Instrumentation is the process of collecting data on the member’s interactions with your company, across their lifecycles.

From gathering usage data from your product to interaction records with the client, to
Integration with other systems, Instrumentation is a critical step in leveraging technology to guide your members along the path toward success.

Context is everything when it comes to Member Success Management, so the more visibility you have into whether your member is moving toward their Desired Outcome, the higher the value your intervention will be.

What you collect all of this data in – Excel, a Business Intelligence tool – like Microsoft Azure, a purpose-built Member Success Management product, is something you’ll need to figure out.

And the last element on this list will help you figure out what that should be.

Operationalization is what takes Member Success Management in your company from a lovely thought experiment and turns it into the Growth Machine that it can be.

Operationalization is simply the process of taking the data from Instrumentation and acting on it. Whether the system acts on it without human interaction or the system notifies a human within your organization to take a certain action should depend on the Appropriate Experience of the member.

That’s why it’s so critical to have a clear idea of what the Appropriate Experience is for your various member segments. If you try to operationalize across a normalized view of all members, you’ll likely create a mix of technology and humans that is inappropriate for most of your members.

Best case, you’ll over-deliver to members that don’t need such high-touch and lower your profit margins. Worst case, you’ll provide an experience that is so incongruent with that the members actually need, you’ll drive them away. The latter is really bad, but don’t assume the former is okay; one of the biggest barriers to scaling that we’ve experienced with clients is when companies over-deliver for their members; don’t over-deliver, or just deliver an experience that is appropriate.

Member Success Management is not a technology-centric initiative; it requires you to understand what Member Success is, how Member Success Management is the orchestration of Member Success, and what all of that means in the context of your members.

From there, you can – and probably should – leverage technology to enable you to perform Member Success Management activities in a predictable, operationalized manner, which is absolutely required at scale. After that, the technology decisions will be easier as those that fit into your well-defined Member Success Management needs will be few.

Most organizations already have a Member Success Management software product that either works well for them or doesn’t. Member Success Management software was originally designed to help businesses build and maintain relationships with new and existing customers. Since then, Member Success Management software has evolved from a simple contact management system into a robust tool that helps users manage sales, marketing, point-of-sale (POS) transactions, accounting, vendors and other types of operational data all in one easily accessible solution.

From a growth standpoint, Member Success Management helps you find leads, follow up with prospects and nurture them through the sales pipeline. Member Success Management is also used to maintain customer loyalty by storing key information to boost sales – for instance, by personalizing the experience and providing excellent customer support.

Here is our 2020 guide on how to choose the right Member Success Management software for your business. If you already know what you need and just want to see our recommendations for the best Member Success Management software, visit Business News Daily’s best picks page.

Here at APM, we’ve fallen in LOVE with HubSpot. HubSpot offers businesses an easy entry into the world of MSM solutions. The free version of HubSpot may offer enough functionality to improve processes and organization at zero cost. It offers users a wealth of training resources in its online library, including learning guides, invoice template generators, email signature generators, and marketing plan template generators. Motivated users have a great DIY buffet of options – without the need to spend money on development and training.

Of all the companies we reviewed, HubSpot has the best free option. This is ideal for very small businesses or other companies that have limited experience using MSM systems. Further, HubSpot has one of the most extensive online training libraries to pull from.


How much does Member Success Management software cost?

The cost of Member Success Management software varies greatly. Vendors typically use a subscription-based pricing model. Pricing depends on several factors, such as the number of users and the types of features available.

Generally, you pay a set per-user, per-month fee. Some vendors charge a flat monthly fee for a set number of users, but you may find that in order to support the number of users you need (and the features you want), you need to buy a more expensive plan, or there can be additional fees for things like additional users. Pricing can range from $10 per user, per month to thousands of dollars per month, depending on your business’s needs.

Don’t have a budget for Member Success Management software? Or maybe you’re not sure that Member Success Management software is right for your business, but you’re curious to see what it has to offer. Many vendors offer free trials of their software. There are also free versions of popular Member Success Management software; some are full-featured but limit the number of users or records, while others offer only the bare minimum capabilities.

What features should you look for in Member Success Management software?

Member Success Management doesn’t just keep your contacts organized – it offers a bevy of tools to help you boost sales and execute more effective marketing campaigns. Here’s more about the features Member Success Management software offers small businesses.

Lead management and sales. Find new customers by automatically generating leads from various sources like social media, website visitors, inbound calls, newsletter sign-ups and more. Follow up with leads automatically with preset emails and tasks or contact them directly yourself. Member Success Management can nurture prospects all the way through the sales pipeline, from lead generation to closing the sale. Additionally, many Member Success Management allows users to create and store sales quotes and track invoices.

Marketing. Many Member Success Management solutions have built-in marketing tools, including email templates, email marketing pipelines, SMS messaging and lightweight project management tools. Some even offer competition tracking and sales forecasting capabilities.

E-commerce. Some high-level Member Success Management software has built-in e-commerce functionality, while other products allow for easy e-commerce integration, either by accessing the API or by using a third-party service.

Reports/dashboards. Most Member Success Management software includes some reporting functionality, and many of the higher-end products sport live dynamic dashboards. Make sure any exporting or importing needs you have (for instance, transferring information to and from Excel or QuickBooks) are compatible with a system you choose.

Call center. Most low-cost Member Success Management products do not have call center capabilities, but there are third-party integrations available to link call center software with Member Success Management software. However, if a call center is central to your business, it may be worthwhile to adopt a Member Success Management with full call center features. (See Related Story: Best Call Centers and Answering Services for Businesses)

Workflows/approvals. Project management is an important aspect of any Member Success Management. Most high-quality Member Success Management systems have built-in workflows and checkmark-style approvals that help with task management and organization. However, the extent to which these project management tools are customizable varies from product to product, so if you require a specific workflow step or approval process, make sure it is achievable with the application you choose.

Questions to ask when considering Member Success Management software

There are many different types of Member Success Management software available, so choosing the right one is key to making it work for your business. Here’s what small business owners advise asking potential vendors:

  • Is it built for small businesses?
  • What is the implementation process like and how much technical assistance is included?
  • How easy is it to use? Can I easily train employees?
  • Are there any user minimums?
  • How easy is it to integrate with other solutions I already use?
  • What is the total cost of the software? Is there any setup or additional fees? What if I need to add more users or integrations?
  • Is the API accessible?
  • What type of security features are built into the application?


Organizations use Member Success Management solutions for a variety of reasons. Initially, though, the Member Success Management industry was geared primarily toward sales and PR professionals, offering a convenient way to store information and track communication with customers. Today, Member Success Management solutions straddle several areas of business customer relationship management, marketing, analytics, communication, and even lightweight project management. Some Member Success Management systems even have built-in chatbot and calling capabilities, so reps can communicate with clients directly from the system.

Even small businesses can afford powerful Member Success Management software, thanks in large part to the proliferation of affordable SaaS solutions, which deliver a lot of functionality without the fuss (or headaches) that come with a major software implementation project. Tiered pricing structures and lots of competition mean organizations have their pick of easy-to-use MSMs that optimize the customer relationship management process.

“Memberships are the most important asset in our industry today.  Are you making the most of your membership program? Is it growing your organization? Are you putting enough resources into growing your member base? Do you have a targeted plan for Recruiting, Engaging, and Retaining your members? We can help.” – Andrew McElhannon, CEO – Association Project Management, LLC®.

APM® helps member-based organizations & professional Trade Associations achieve Member Success, stabilize their member retention and guarantee membership growth through Prospect Development and Member Recruitment, as well as Member Engagement and Concierge Onboarding.

Organizations implement APM’s® programs to sustain their current revenue, reduce losses due to Churn (member non-renewal) and generate new revenue by creating Raving Fans® who evangelize new members that over time becomes automatic, organic growth. “Members begetting Members”.

Association Project Management, LLC® also provides a list of other project management and project completion services through a virtual staff member – a committed, trusted expert who helps to reduce costs, lower risks, improve efficiencies, meet deadlines, solve challenging problems, support strategic initiatives and produce better outcomes for your association staff. Visit them today at

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