If a customer has signed up for your basic membership, you’ve already done something right. Your user experience was strong enough to make them come to know, like, and trust your brand. Your online presence made it easy for them to learn more and sign up for your introductory service.
But we all know the real value in membership programs is in engaging your existing customers and moving them up the product pyramid to your more expensive offerings. Just because you’ve dazzled them in the past doesn’t mean you can rest on your laurels now. Keeping the user experience high for existing customers will not only encourage them to renew their membership but also drive them to try your bigger and better products.
Provide a One-Stop Shop for Information
Once someone has signed up for membership, make sure it’s easy for them to access all of the benefits that come with their purchase, understand any steps they need to take to use the perks of membership, and get in touch with you if they have any questions.
A welcome email with links to pertinent information, with your phone number or customer service email clearly displayed, is a good first step. If you’re sending them something as a part of their membership, make sure that information is included as well. If the item is an eBook or something online, include the link. Sending something via snail mail? Include the shipping information so they don’t have to copy and paste a tracking number into the shipping company’s browser.
Ensure Your Search and Browse Functionality Is World-Class
Google has spoiled us all. Their search function is mind-bogglingly good, and that means users expect that kind of experience with search tools everywhere.
When a user searches your site, they’re looking for an answer to a question or are trying to find a specific piece of information. If their search turns up nothing or the wrong kind of information, they will grow frustrated.
In order to ensure you’re delivering the best possible search experience, first invest in high-quality search technology. Don’t rely on the basic WordPress search functionality to get the job done.
Tag your content in smart and appropriate ways. Foregoing tags or not being thoughtful about the way you tag content means that even the greatest search engine in the world will have trouble understanding what content is relevant to a given search term on your site.
Finally, be strategic about your taxonomies, and organize your content based on how your users think and browse. You’re trying to create a clear path to move users up your product pyramid, from one offering to the next. You want your website to encourage that behavior and make sense to someone outside your company.
Do not organize things according to your internal processes or name things based on internal jargon; your users don’t know or care what’s going on behind the scenes. Creating incredible UX is about putting yourself in your customers’ shoes and designing something that’s tailored to their needs. It’s then your job to create the appropriate systems and prune out-of-date workflows behind the scenes to ensure your team has the bandwidth to make it all happen.
Make It Easy to Reach You
Customers will have questions about membership from time to time and may prefer to handle issues in different ways. Make sure you have a comprehensive FAQ page or user forum on your website. Those who want to do their own digging for a solution can head there first. You should also be sure that your contact information is clearly displayed on the FAQ page; if the user can’t find the answer they’re looking for, they can reach out to you directly.
For those who want to go straight to the source for help, make sure you have a variety of ways for users to contact you and that it’s easy for them to find this information. These are your members who have already paid for a service; if you make it hard to get answers about basic membership, why would they want to move up the pyramid? Having a chat option on your website, a customer service email, and a phone number is important.
You also need the means to monitor and respond to incoming questions, regardless of where they originate. Someone may submit an inquiry through an online chat window and then email or call to follow up. A platform like Zendesk can help you to track customer service requests across various platforms and make sure nothing falls through the cracks.
Technologies like this also keep your full team on the same page. If the person answering the phones knows that a customer already sent a question via email, they can impress them by offering seamless support that acknowledges their earlier inquiry. This is the kind of UX that makes customers feel cared for and builds trust in your brand.
Give Them the Star Treatment
Once someone has signed up for your basic membership package, it’s time to turn on the charm. Make them feel special, and put your best foot forward to encourage them to move up the pyramid.
In addition to an on-boarding series of emails, how about, a month into their membership, sending them a personalized email to check in? Sometimes customers are hesitant to reach out if they have a complaint or question. But if you prompt them and make them feel like you’re truly interested in their feedback, they might be more willing to share their thoughts or concerns.
Again, the key here is to follow up on any feedback you get. If you’re soliciting feedback but drop the ball on addressing the issue, you won’t inspire confidence.
Send Targeted Offers for Other Products
I’ve written in the past about the benefits of using a customer data platform to track customers’ behaviors across platforms. If you’re running a membership program, using such a tool can help create an even better UX.
CDPs give you a clear understanding of how each customer is using their membership. If you notice they’re interacting most heavily with content on a certain topic, let them know about related products and services you offer.
A personalized email or pop-up on your website that says, “If you’re enjoying X about your membership, try Y,” can be beneficial for both you and the customer. Because it’s a targeted offer, you know you’re telling them about something they’ll find useful—and it gives you the opportunity to upsell them on a new product.
It’s easier to move existing customers up the product pyramid than it is to start from scratch with new prospects. However, if you let the user experience dwindle once they’ve signed up for a basic membership, your customer will think twice about giving you additional business. Making sure you’re providing personalized service and great responses to their questions and needs will make your customers all the more likely to give your other products and offerings a try.
About the Author
Rob Ristagno, Founder and CEO of Sterling Woods, previously served as a senior executive at several digital media and e-commerce businesses, including as COO of America’s Test Kitchen. He started his career as a consultant at McKinsey. Ristagno holds degrees from the Harvard Business School and Dartmouth College and has taught at both Harvard and Boston College.
Rob is the author of A Member is Worth a Thousand Visitors: A Proven Method for Making More Money Online. He regularly speaks at key media conferences, including at Niche Media events, Specialized Information Publishers Association meetings, and the Business Information and Media Summit.