Seth Godin asks the question: If you started to think of your customers as members, how would things change?

I think the goal was to make people think about not making “the sale” and more about how to get people involved with you and be with you along for the ride.

I fin it amusing, because I work for an org that has members, not customers. And I would love for us to think, sometimes, more about them as customers and not as members. Â In our world, this is how I see it:

Members are “engaged” (our second metric alongside with revenue that we measure on a religious basis), but we measure engagement as someone who contacts us on some level once in the last five years. For example, if they write us a letter, if they sign up for a newsletter, if they travel with us once in the last five years, they are “engaged.” If they do X number of things in the last five years, they are “highly engaged.”

On the downside, our members are taken for granted. Â We send them emails and a quarterly magazine and that’s that. We assume once they are “engaged” (read the definition above and decide exactly how engaged they really are), we move on to the next thing. We don’t have products to sell, we have memberships to sell. Once they are a member, we don’t do much with them except send them messages about other events or programs with think they might be interested in (based on location and age, usually).

This stems from the idea that they are members because of our connection to the university. They aren’t really members because of us (for the most part), but because we explain that we are the gateway to the university. Thus, we don’t sell ourselves and what we do, we sell ourselves as a kind of middleman to the university. Once they are members, we forget about them (we just put them in the queue for all the stuff we generate).

I’d love to talk about them as customers. If we thought about them more, more often, thought about what their needs were, what their needs are going to be, we’d be better positioned to help them and make them love us, which is the goal, right?