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What is member experience?
Member experience is how users engage with your brand and how that member engagement shapes their perception of it. This perception can be influenced by dozens of different factors that impact the feelings your members have towards your brand, and that's why brands can and should be intentional about trying to craft the best member experience possible.
In an online community, many of the touchpoints of member experience that a bricks-and-mortar business would create must be supplemented with a strong digital experience. This should start with the first sign-on and "welcome" post or video, and carry through their entire lifecycle in your community.
Why is member experience important?
A strong, positive member experience will increase satisfaction, retention, word-of-mouth advertising, and profitability. The famous saying is, "people won't remember what you say. But they'll remember how you make them feel."
It's true in life, and it's true for brands.
A brand, after all, is the perception people have of you or your company. And your members' experience, as we said above, shapes that perception. This means that member experience isn't just "customer service"; it's the foundation of your brand.
At the end of the day, people won’t remember your sales copy. But they’ll sure as heck remember how their experience with your brand made them feel.
How do you create a good member experience online?
Member experience online can be shaped by many factors, but here are some of the top ones:
1. The platform
Any platform you use to manage your membership should be streamlined and effective for the purpose. The user experience of a platform should be intuitive and relatively simple. If your platform is hard to use, content isn't delivered well, or engagements are awkward, no amount of effort on the part of the Host will really fix it. (Read How to Evaluate Community Platforms)
2. The welcome process
The first touchpoints with your members are some of the most important. What do they see after they purchase? If they’re joining your community, what’s the first post they find? Is it easy to navigate, or are they lost from the start?
Be intentional about your welcome process, and create an amazing new member onboarding experience.
3. The content
If you've got a great platform, the next step is the content! What are you doing on the platform to help members engage and connect?
Any great member experience for your online community will require some sort of great content. We'd recommend reading our post on Community Design™, which will walk you through some of the basics!
4. The other members
Whether you like it or not, experience in an online community is shaped by the other members.
It can be frustrating to hang part of your member experience on the actions of people you have no control over. However, this is really just a great opportunity to make sure you have clear ground rules and expectations for your community and that these rules are being enforced. Also, get laser focused on who your ideal member is, and you'll see that members get excited to be in community with people going through the same things they are.
5. Customer service
If your members have a problem, can they get it solved easily? Can they get quick help, support, or even a refund? This plays a HUGE role in member experience. Try to make your customer service as accessible and friendly as possible.