You’re a campaigner, or organiser. You know intuitively that some of your members or supporters are more active than others. They encourage other people to get involved, join, volunteer or sign up. They’re enthusiastic, loyal advocates of your organisation or union and sing your praises to their colleagues, friends and family. They’re promoters.
Here’s the challenge. Do you know how much more valuable these advocates are compared to an inactive, disengaged member? How much would it be worth to your union to increase the number of delegates, activists, volunteers and leaders? What impact would it have on your membership numbers, volunteer hours or donors if you increased the number of promoters you had by 10%? Or 20%?
And what is the most effective way to do this? How do your advocates encourage new members to join? What is that worth?
The key to winning campaigns and achieving membership growth is through motivating your committed supporters. Your motivated supporters are more likely to remain involved (as a member or leader) for longer, financially contribute to your union more, provide ideas and suggestions, and importantly, sing your praises to their colleagues, friends and family.
I wrote a little while ago about four metrics that union leaders should know about. One of them was the Net Promoter Score. The NPS measures simply and quickly how enthusiastic your members are towards your organisation.
To calculate your NPS, take the percentage of members who are promoters (P) and subtract the percentage who are detractors (D). Members who are passive are left out of the equation. You should have something like this:
P — D = NPS.
You can gauge whether your members are detractors or promoters in membership surveys, by asking the question “how likely are you to recommend to a friend or colleague that they join the union”. People who are very unlikely to recommend are detractors, those who are very likely to recommend are your promoters.
This metric is useful because it gives you a snapshot of the growth potential of your union, by measuring the enthusiasm existing members have towards the union. Having a high Net Promoter Score doesn’t guarantee strong growth, but it will be harder to grow without your members being willing to recommend membership of the union.
There is a growing body of research that ties loyalty and the NPS to strong, sustainable organic financial growth. An organisation with a higher number of loyal clients/customers/members grows faster than its competitors.
The NPS can be a useful tool for unions because it helps foster a culture of feedback, recovery and action. It allows member feedback to be incorporated into decision-making, and can be tied to specific organisers or organising teams to help them improve their activities.
For example, it can help your organisers identify your promoters as primary targets for leadership and delegate development. You can target your “neutral” members to try to turn them into promoters, or the least displeased “detractors” to address their concerns.
Before implementing a NPS, you’ll need the support of your senior union leadership. Without a champion such as the union’s secretary, and others, to implement it and disseminate it through your union, it’s likely to be ignored or to not achieve any results.
Here’s how you can implement an NPS in your union.
1. Start keeping the score (accurately)
Start systematically running an Net Promoter Score survey for all members. If you have a call-centre, this could be a question asked routinely when a member contacts the union. It could be asked at the start of organising campaigns. Getting an expert with sampling and survey techniques involved would be important in ensuring the data has integrity. Remember, your NPS isn’t just an individual score, but also an aggregate score across your membership (or a segment of your membership).
2. Calculate life-time value of promoters
I’ll write an article in more detail about how to do this, but there is a lot written on calculating “customer lifetime value”. This can then help you gauge the most effective investment in organising, communications or servicing. The most simple way is to look at the average life-time of membership, minus the cost of signing the member up and the cost of servicing them. Promoters are more valuable because they help sign up additional members.
3. Find out “why” they’re a promoter
To track down the root cause of an individual’s experience, you could ask yourself, “what about this member, this situation, this campaign or case, our communications, our service or our operations has contributed to this result? This is not a question that can be farmed out to a polling or research firm.
4. Share feedback throughout the union
There’s no point in doing loads of research or establishing systems if the information is not distributed throughout the union. Your union should develop practical methods for sharing the NPS to organisers, industrial officers and elected officials.
Your union’s staff should feel empowered to experiment with different ways to help and organise members. The union should not be so ossified that it does not consider new ways to improve or exploit new opportunities.
Ultimately, you want more promoters. This will involve addressing and resolving individual issues and cases. Organising is important because you want to empower promoters to solve their own problems, but you should make sure that your promoters do get special care and attention.
7. Upgrade your IT and database
The larger your union becomes and the more promoters (delegates) you have, the greater your IT requirements will be. To integrate your Net Promoter Score will require a good quality membership database or CRM. It should link into your other operating systems, such as how you measure financial performance.
8. Leadership commitment
A Net Promoter Score can’t be introduced by a single organiser or union communicator. It must be championed by the union’s leadership. Not only must the leadership commit to it, they must communicate it throughout the union, and be willing to make changes to adapt to what the score reveals.
A Net Promoter Score is a simple, easy to understand metric that has been very successful in the business world and there’s no reason for unions not to use it. It helps make organisations focus on their most important assets: members and activists (or champion customers in the case of businesses).