Many years ago, as a young and aggressive club manager I felt my personal value to the club was determined by knowing what the members thought. I’d practice that value proposition by walking through the dining room or driving a cart around the golf course talking to members listening to what they had to say. First person feedback, get out there and be visible, and experience it all first hand: that was my process.
In retrospect, it was effective for the few members that frequented the club often, most of whom were happily engaged in the club. Truth is, I missed a lot of valuable feedback from those that were not at the club as frequently, that likely had issues, and who were potentially at risk of not remaining members. Since those early days I’ve frequently criticized Boards for their bias and lack of depth in understanding the real issues, then making decisions on what they thought they knew, but generally limited to their weekend foursome and infrequent social interactions at the club. In defense, they really thought they were listening too, and they were. Problem was, they were often listening to the biased opinion of one!
Engaging in member relationship research and how successful businesses are navigating the experience era, I learned how important listening really was and how inadequate my early attempts had been at truly uncovering all members concerns. As Gary Eversole, our VP of Development points out from his years of research, “One of the fallacies with reactive listening is that those that choose to voice an issue directly are generally less inhibited and represent only the vocal minority, while most individuals prefer to avoid confrontation and/or discomfort of complaining person-to-person. Instead often harboring that ill-will and dis-satisfaction and only sharing that with their close friends, normal 4-some, card table, etc.”
In today’s world, progressive organizations have embraced the Listening Revolution and consider it a business-critical practice. As such, listening has evolved into an art form of ACTIVELY seeking and capturing the customers/members voice at the right time and in the right manner. This is being accomplished through professionally worded surveys and utilizing recent technology advances to reduce intrusiveness and improve convenience for the customer/member.
According to Gary, “While the art of listening has dramatically evolved during the past few years, the REAL change propelling the Listening Revolution has been acting on the information individual customers/members are providing. The very best organizations are deploying robust processes and systems to:
- Personalize future experiences based on the information provided
- Identify continuous experience improvement opportunities
- Organize and streamline following up with individual customers/members to “close the loop” when an issue or dissatisfaction is expressed”
So you may be asking yourself why do companies like Lexus, Ritz Carleton, Amazon deploy these type of systems, is it really worth the effort for a private club? The answer is a resounding YES. Research has proven that if a member has an issue and it’s resolved in a timely and appropriate manner their satisfaction, loyalty and bond to the club becomes actually stronger than members that do not experience an issue. Furthermore, as I’m sure you’ve heard, research has proven that it takes seven positive experiences to overcome one negative experience.
With the uncertainty of our times and the COVID issue still lingering, more importantly than ever before, you need to know what are your members are thinking, what they might fear, what the club can do to ease their concerns and get them back to normal as quickly as possible. Isn’t it time to deploy active listening to fully understand and respond positively to your members? Isn’t building greater confidence and a stronger bond making them part of a shared destiny for the club and ultimately increasing satisfaction, engagement, retention, and referrals.
If you are interested in learning how to join the listening revolution, I’d love to hear from you. In the interim, if you’d be interested in a quick pulse survey to ascertain member’s concerns as you reopen, I invite you to contact me at 214-679-8496 or Peter McCarty at 517-420-5457.
Stay safe, look forward!