Posted on: 24 March 2014
The Changing Association Experience
What does an association for medical professionals have in common with an Internet domain name registration authority?
Both have members and seek to provide the services offered to their members through their online channels as part of a broader overall user experience and a much more intricate member journey.
Mapping out the journey that their members take allows both of these types of organizations to provide their services at the highest value touchpoints thereby satisfying the needs of their member base while being targeted and efficient in the expenditure of their resources.
A touchpoint, in this context, is any point during the many stages of the member journey that an organization has an opportunity to make contact and influence that member’s experience.
In today’s marketplace many opportunities exist for associations to interact with and provide services to their members. The traditional touchpoints such as mail, phone and face to face interactions still exist, but web, mobile web, tablet, phone apps and social media channels are also ways in which modern associations and their members interact. With more channels available, associations have to ensure that they are spending their resources in a prudent way, that is to say choosing the channels that are right for their members.
Successfully navigating the growing list of options is not just a matter of keeping up with the latest technological trends, but often a complex set of decisions about where a return on investment can be maximized and where the most benefits for members can be realized.
This is where experience mapping comes into play. An experience map is a way to illustrate all of the touchpoints that a user, customer or member would experience along the path to using your product or service. The prevalence of experience maps or customer journeys is an admission by the design industry that user experience extends far beyond the screens or pages of your website.
The member journey encompasses all of the touchpoints that lead up to use, the use of the product itself, and all of the touchpoints after use. It is an understanding that even if your website is usable, but your telephone IVR or your print material is lacking, users will paint the combined user experience with the same critical brush. Understanding the whole experience journey is to go beyond the interaction design of a single technology or channel and encompass the experience design of all technologies and channels to create a holistic, unified and intentional user experience across your entire brand and all its touchpoints.
Understanding users, their behavior and context of use allows an association to better meet their needs. To be able to account for the different personas that make up an association’s membership and understand what each customer journey is like is very valuable. A good journey map is built on sound user research. Each journey map should be focused on a persona. These personas and their scenarios of use should be developed using research techniques such as ethnography, which provide an empirical and objective perspective on true user behavior and context of use.
In the case of an association for doctors, understanding when they access member tools and for what reason will allow the association to tailor the overall experience to better suit the needs. By conducting research into how different types of users access different types of services, the association can provide mobile access for bedside care, desktop access for in depth research and ensure a common and consistent vocabulary and information architecture across all devices and channels.
The association can decide if they need to spend money making their website responsive or whether to invest in creating an app or a social media strategy. Would members find value in a Facebook page, and if so, what content should populate it.
By understanding your members and their needs you can engineer and intentional experience for their journey that will reflect positively on your association and satisfy your membership at every point of there interaction with your products and services.