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What is Member Success and Why is it Important to your Organization in 2020?

When you sell a jacket or a bar of chocolate, the ethereal idea of ‘customer success’ isn’t necessary.

Those are simple, self-explanatory products that everyone knows how to use. It’s almost built-in to every consumer product today.

Even with things like a new vacuum cleaner or a High-definition television, customer success isn’t required. A user manual and a hotline are as far as most things go.

With your industry-specific association membership product, however, it’s not going to be so easy. Industry-specific tools and resources can be set up and used in a variety of ways, solving different problems for your members. With technology and the internet becoming a global marketplace for not only consumer products but resources as well, industries and the associations themselves have changed and diversified, and there are a lot of avenues for tools and resources your members could be chosen over yours, with more attractive benefits and better support.

When your members need follow-up and guidance to ensure they get a full ROI, that’s when Member Success becomes a must-have.

This is because a member who speaks to your membership coordinator or reads your association’s landing page is already sold on the benefits, not the features.

The member knows your product can solve their problem, but not exactly how to get that value.

What is Member Success?

Member Success starts out as an aim, not a department of people or a group of processes— what we call ‘lower-case’ Member Success.

It starts by recognizing that your members need more than a ‘user manual’ or an automated onboarding flow or email drip campaign for their membership to live up to the promises made on your landing page.

Keeping members close and working with them 1-on-1 is a Member Success style known as Concierge Onboarding. While startups, Product to consumer companies, and now even associations like yours are starting to focus on it only now, the early results are promising — members… who’ve gotten a customized onboarding experience with their membership… and have returned year after year to their associations… have doubled.

It should be obvious that: a member who is staring at the outset of their membership and wondering how they can best measure the ROI for their company – and they haven’t gotten the guidance or hand-holding they need to fully benefit from their membership – that member is likely to cancel their membership and go look for something they understand — something that is easy to see the value of straight away.

Member Success is a system, run by people whose only goal is to help members get the most out of their membership. It happens straight after their joining the association is processed.

So in order to define Member Success, you must know what success looks like for your members. The definition will be different for each member and each member segment, and the method of achieving it will be different for every organization. The first thing about Member Success you must know is that it’s not member support: it’s a way of proactively working with your member 1:1.

The Definition of Member Success

Before you can effectively operationalize member success – hire Member Success Managers, procure Member Success software, or start to explore the role Member Success plays in different aspects of your business, you have to take a step back and look at what actual member success really is.

Member Success is when your members achieve their Desired Outcome through their interactions with your organization.

There are two key elements in that definition of Member Success to pay close attention to:

Desired Outcome – a transformative concept that essentially describes what the member needs to achieve (Required Outcome) and how they need to achieve it (Appropriate Experience)

So then, rather than saying “with your membership, or resource, or product,” in our Member Success definition, the focus is on all of the interactions your member has with your organization; starting at the earliest touchpoints of marketing and sales, moving through closing and onboarding, and continuing through their entire lifecycle with you.

If you can keep this simple definition of Member Success in mind, everything else moving forward will make sense to you.

If your members aren’t constantly getting value from what they’re paying you, you can understand from a business perspective why they will stop paying.

Here at Association Project Management, LLC we’ve developed a 10-statement survey that will assess how well your association is positioned to stop the membership erosion your organization may be experiencing and start adding more new agencies to your ranks than you are losing through decline. If you’re interested in this self-evaluation tool, email us at We’d love to get your feedback, and help you make some positive growth changes for your membership goals!

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 our 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.

Contact us today to see how we can help your organization excel in 2020!

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