Data is what businesses and associations thrive on. It is very important to always maintain a high level of accuracy which includes having up-to-date contact information. Unfortunately, this is not always as easy as it sounds.
There are a lot of challenges ensuring that associations have correct and accurate information and that it reaches the intended party(s).
Ensuring that the information in their database is current and up to date all the time can be done by double checking that the information is accurate each time a notice needs to be sent out. Reminders can be sent out through mass emails, newsletters, webpage announcements, and even phone calls.
Current information should include phone number, email address, mailing address and in the case of a trade association or corporate member, the primary contact person for the specific company. If information is inaccurate or outdated, association members may not receive important items such as invitations to events, newsletters, meeting documents, important updates and even bills. This creates frustration for all parties involved.
Association staff are tasked with ensuring that the association runs smoothly and operates efficiently. This is difficult when member contact information is not accurate. The burden of having to guess or check contact information can be significant. All the extra time that association staff spend on investigating contact information is precious time that could be dedicated to more important activities of the association.
Three tips that can help to prevent this problem are:
1. Communicate with your association members
When you are available, try to reach out and clarify any questions you may have about new members and their required contact information. This is important as it shows the association members how much time and energy is being put into their association and that you care about your job and doing it properly. This makes it easier to ensure that associations are sending the right information to the right person at the right place.
2. Be Specific
Whether you communicate with members via phone or email it is always a perfect opportunity to review their contact information with them and make sure that it is the same information as in the file. This is something that the members will appreciate. Let them know to specify who in their organization should be contacted for what – who should be invoiced, who for events, who for membership renewal, and for bills. Another way to do this is to have a sheet available for members to fill out if they have information to update. It is as easy as filling it out and returning it to the office. It is important to request specific information to ensure no mistakes are made.
3. Know the software you have access to
Many association management systems have features that help with keeping contact information up to date. This may include automated prompts to verify contact information. It is important to be aware of the software features your company subscribes to. You can take webinars and watch videos to familiarize yourself with the software. Even asking other colleagues for their assistance will be helpful. Inquiring about additional software that may be better in serving members could also be a good idea. Going to the software program on a regular basis and seeing if there are any software updates to the program is something that ought to be done as well. In turn, this will make you more aware of all the features and shortcuts that are available for keeping contact information updated.
When association members keep their association informed of any changes with their contact information are better able to communicate with members more effectively.
And communication is the key to nurturing a successful association that will continue to grow.