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“We Really Connected at an Emotional Level”!

It sounds like a line from a reality TV show and one you wouldn’t expect to see on a member survey or feedback form. However, research is showing there is a distinct difference between a rationally satisfied club member and an emotionally satisfied one. And there is power in recognising that an emotional connection matters more than a high member-satisfaction score.

Many clubs, in striving for greater revenue and growth, look to optimise the member experience. Every aspect of a member's interaction and time spent in the club, across brand, products, promotions and service offerings, is mapped and tracked in the search to improve member satisfaction at each step of the journey.

The problem can be that member satisfaction is already high and not a competitive differentiator and that without the goal of adding value to members the expenditure doesn’t equate to financial return.

In analysing a myriad of businesses across dozens of categories, Harvard Business Review maintains that the most effective way to maximise customer value is to move beyond mere customer satisfaction and connect with customers at an emotional level – tapping into their fundamental motivations and fulfilling their deep, often unspoken emotional needs.

Of the hundreds of “emotional motivators”, that drive consumer behaviour, some of the ones, relevant to clubs, that significantly add value to members include:

1. Stand Out from the Crowd - Clubs can leverage this motivator by creating a unique social identity that makes members feel special

2. Enjoy a Sense of Well-Being – Members like to feel that life measures up and balance has been achieved. Position the club as the stress-relieving, conflict-free part of their lives

3. Feel a Sense of Freedom – An environment where members can act independently without obligations or restrictions

4. Feel a Sense of Thrill – Provide members with a visceral, pleasurable and exciting experience.

5. Feel a Sense of Belonging – Members are motivated by having an affiliation with people they relate to or like. They like to feel part of a group.

6. Feel Secure – A belief that what they have today will be here tomorrow

On a lifetime value basis, emotionally connected members are more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied members. These emotionally connected members buy more of your products and services, visit you more often, exhibit less price sensitivity, pay more attention to your communications, follow your advice, and recommend your club to their friends and family – all the things you hope they will do. Clubs deploying emotional-connection-based strategies and metrics to design, prioritise, and measure the member experience find that increasing members’ emotional connection drives significant improvements in financial outcomes.

Unfortunately, members often cannot tell you what aspects of the customer experience resonate most powerfully with their emotional motivations. In fact, they often misreport the underlying importance of particular customer experience elements, leading clubs to invest in the wrong things. Of course, it’s necessary to provide members with what they say is important. However, as the research suggests it’s much more valuable to focus on those elements shown to drive emotional connection

Shaping a member experience by being precise about the emotional connections you’re trying to build and investing in the touch points that drive these connections is a powerful way to increase member value, maximise return-on-investment and minimise the risk. Emotionally connected members not only generate greater value, but each time you connect with them emotionally the more they are convinced that “this club is a part of my life.”

Member experience improvement is critical, but it’s very hard and expensive to execute. It can require prioritising and managing large investments that span multiple functions across the club, all in the hope that member value will increase. By setting emotional connection as the overarching goal, the “true north” of the member experience, clubs can point their investments in the right direction, execute more effectively, and reap significant financial rewards.

At our upcoming Club Managers Webinar, we will be looking at the topic of member service excellence and a key theme is looking past what we’ve done in the past, and what we think members want, and really trying to understand their needs and drivers.

If you’d like to join the webinar on 9th August – 10.00 am click here

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