Many chambers instituted an all-hands-on-deck campaign to call every member during the pandemic shut-down. Staff were repurposed, and chamber ambassadors pulled in, to complete outreach as quickly as possible. For most chambers, the purpose of the outreach was to:
Member retention requires excellent customer service, clear communication of the value of the chamber, and promoting and tracking membership engagement. Effective onboarding of members and surveys to identify member needs are also part of an effective retention plan.
Chambers of commerce employed a variety of approaches during the COVID-19 crisis, seeking to find the right balance of showcasing compassion and empathy, highlighting member value and keeping revenue flowing into the chamber. The following steps and best practices were developed from Membership Development Division (MDD) roundtable calls and are useful membership renewal practices to adopt at any time.
Adjust the messaging in your renewal communications. Communicating to your members and highlighting the ROI of membership is imperative during times of crisis. Best practice is to include a letter with the invoice outlining:
Adjustments to communications can include:
Choose an approach appropriate for your chamber (see below examples) and follow up with a phone call from a membership representative. Regardless of approach, best practice is direct outreach to members to see where they are at and to assess their needs. Some chambers have been able to add new members as a result of their outreach efforts and highlighting the value they are offering to their members and business communities.
Huntsville/Madison County Chamber (AL) called all members and adjusted renewal options on a case-by-case approach during the pandemic shut-down. The chamber only sent invoices if the business was able to pay. Their campaign was internally called Operation Care with the following guidelines:
RENEW: If the member was able to support the Chamber due to little to no impact from COVID-19
RESET: If the member was impacted, they offered a dues reset in July 2020
DROP: Normal drop reasons, no longer in business, moved, financial constraints, per choice
With this approach, 52 memberships up for renewal in March 2020 broke-down as:
Grand Rapids Chamber (MI) emailed renewal invoices with a letter outlining what the Chamber did to support businesses in response to COVID-19. The letter extended flexibility to create an optimal solution for the member to maintain their membership, but options were not detailed. A membership representative followed up with a phone call to determine if a flexible plan is needed. If needed, the Chamber offered:
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