Measuring Member Value Perceptions: The Two-Minute Survey

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by Andrea Pellegrino

Recently, I was following an online discussion about what question you would ask if you could only conduct a one-question survey. Several people responded with variations on the so-called “Ultimate Question.” No, not the one in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy , which is where my mind always goes when I hear that phrase. (Sad, but true!)

We’re talking about Fred Reichheld’s “Ultimate Question,” the answer to which determines an organization’s Net Promoter Score®: “On a scale of 1-10, how likely would you be to recommend this organization to a friend or colleague?”

It’s not my intent to go into the details of the Ultimate Question and Net Promoter Scores or their pros and cons. The question itself is deceptively simple. Putting it in context can be complex, and each organization has to work that out for itself. You can read all about it in Reichheld’s book, The Ultimate Question, or on his website. If you’re not familiar with it, I highly recommend you take a look.

However, since I’m always thinking of ways to help associations refocus their marketing efforts away from pushing products and toward serving members, the Ultimate Question discussion reminded me that it is a tool that any association can use to get an immediate, but profound insight into how members really feel about the value of their memberships, and why.

Two Questions Every Association Needs to Ask Its Members About Value

Want to know where you really stand with your members? Send out a two-question survey to all of your members containing the Ultimate Question and its follow-up. That’s it. Nothing about “how would you rate our conference,” or “have you ever attended a webinar,” or “how familiar are you with our online newsletter.” Just the two questions:

  1. On a scale of 0-10, how likely would you be to recommend this organization to a friend or colleague?
  2. Please describe why you rated us this way.

I’m not recommending this quickie survey as a replacement for in-depth market research. There’s really no such thing as a one-question survey or an “ultimate” question. Instead, these two questions simply encapsulate the totality of the membership experience in a way that helps you meaningfully quantify overall value—in one, two-minute survey.

It provides a quick insight—a view of value from 20,000 feet—that you can use to benchmark how member perception of value changes as you add services, repackage benefits, change dues structures, or take other measures to compete in today’s marketplace. You’ll know you’ve made a difference when your Net Promoter Score improves.

If you’ve never asked your members these questions, you need to, soon. I guarantee the answers will be a wake-up call about how your members really feel about your organization and why you’re struggling to grow membership.


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