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We want to give our members a great online experience. What AMS features should I be looking for?

Put yourself in your members’ shoes and think about what they would want:  easy to use and highly intuitive user interface (simple, minimal frustration); complete and up-to-date information; and member interaction via well organized and easy-to-find resources, announcements, and discussion threads.

1. Intuitive User Interface

Your members have probably used LinkedIn or Facebook and they will naturally compare their experience on other social platforms with your association management system’s (AMS) online community and user portal.  The easier it is for your members to use, the more likely members will use it on a regular basis.   A great online experience begins with mastery of the platform, so be sure that the AMS user portal and online community is straightforward and easy to comprehend.

2. Access to their own information

It’s likely that the first area members will view is their own information.  Your AMS should be clearly organized so that members know what information to add to their profile.  Make sure data fields are clearly defined to encourage members to enter everything needed for a complete profile.

3. Access to educational and transactional information

Once members have begun to use the system meet their expectations by having important information such as purchase information and accreditation documentation available.

Members using your AMS’s online commerce pages to purchase products and registrations will appreciate having access to receipts and other transaction documents available for their records.  Make sure that the AMS allows for easy download or printing of purchases or registrations.

Many organizations with ongoing accreditation programs need an AMS that will track educational credits.  Members will need easy access to their records in order to provide documentation to the certifying professional bodies.  Keeping this information accurate and timely, as well as easy to access, contributes greatly to a positive online experience.

4. Access to other members

With most associations, the real treasure and benefit of membership is the interaction among members.  The key to delivering an outstanding online experience is to facilitate member interaction, from simple member directories to online communities.

Member directories should be flexible enough to allow members to search on a variety of fields.  Perhaps they are from Vaughan and want to search to find other members nearby: the AMS should be able to do that.  In another instance, a member might want to search by company name to see all of the members from that company.

Having an AMS that provides a full blown online community opens up all kinds of opportunity for members.  Avectra provides all the member search options as well as a private social networking platform, somewhat similar to LinkedIn, which allows members to consume and contribute information in the form of announcements, discussion threads, resources (such as white papers, research, presentation slides), and surveys.

In order to facilitate focused discussions, groups and subgroups can be created.  An illustration of this might be an over-arching group, such as the Annual Conference, that includes all members who have registered for the event.  There might be subgroups that could be created based on the various session tracks or level of participation (planning committee, volunteers, first time attendees, etc.).  Think of subgroups much the same way you’d think of ‘birds of a feather’ focused discussion tables at an event.

Online community groups provide an online forum where your members are able to keep in touch with other members.  The online community is a great place to get feedback on association offerings and adoption and post announcements on important association news.

Your AMS needs to be simple to use yet robust enough to deliver all that your membership requires in order to maintain a vibrant exchange.  By ensuring these four deliverables are available for your members, you will not only create an outstanding member experience, you will strengthen the connection between members and your association.

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