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Professional Associations – How Chatbots Are Helping Your Members
People who join your professional association have high hopes of achieving their goals through the membership offerings. For some it may be training or access to business resources to help in their career. For others, it may be the networking opportunities presented through live events and in-person conferences.
It’s a great feeling to provide a community space for like-minded people.
As your professional association grows, you rely more on volunteers to assist in the day-to-day engagements with members across the globe. Whether it be through staffing onsite activities or providing thought leadership in your digital publications, you want to count on volunteers to be there.
But asking people to work for free can be a challenge sometimes. There’s no such thing as free in this world. So how can you provide an excellent membership experience for your professional association?
We want to share a tech-secret. One that might not be too well-known in your industry circle. One that will give you the edge to scale in membership communication, no matter how big you might get. It’s called the chatbot.
Your very own virtual assistant built to cover all the online interactions with members around the world, anytime of the day. You can have a chatbot to serve new members and the volunteering process for all your digital tasks with efficiency.
That’s Professional with a Capital “P”!
We love a beautifully designed website. They have clear navigation with fresh color palettes offering easily understood call to actions. “VOLUNTEER NOW!”; “SIGN UP TODAY!” These are the links you want people to click on when you need their help. But not all prospective members interact through your website in this modern world. Some might learn about you through social media, at a local member meeting, or during a marketing email campaign. Wouldn’t it be great if you could engage with them through their preferred communication channels?
Chatbots are the omnichannel employees that will meet your members anywhere, wherever they are. They excel at real-time availability that’s only a press of a button away. In an earlier article we talked about two of the most common interactions chatbots have with your members—account management being an integral component to a person’s basic needs.
To expand in the world of professional associations, you want your chatbot to help direct members to relevant training, business assets, and onboard them for more involvement. Chatbots will help process all the torturous paperwork that comes with applications including volunteer assignments, scholarships, awards, and even scheduling.
This sounds great, but how exactly does it all work?
Let’s run through an example that happens all the time in professional associations: Jobs.
A manufacturing association helps its members network in the furniture industry. Part of the membership service is matching prospective employees with employers. Starting from the beginning of member journey, an engineer may hear through word of mouth about your awesome association. He visits the website to learn more and is greeted by a chatbot.
Acting as an ambassador of the manufacturing association, the chatbot answers the engineers’ questions. “What’s the benefit of joining?” “What are the dues?” “How can I find jobs?” After the chatbot helps the engineer, it prequalifies him to ensure eligibility. Then, the process of membership sign-up is underway!
The chatbot collects membership details through a conversational form including any contact details and professional certificates. Once added as a member, the engineer can browse through a list of options or freetype / freesay his specific requests. In his case, he wants to learn about new job opportunities within the manufacturing association.
The chatbot brings up a list of the employer offerings and the engineer is free to pick each and be forwarded to apply on the job website. Finally, the chatbot will offer the engineer a chance to opt in for future job alerts with the manufacturing association. He agrees and now periodically when new jobs are added, the chatbot will automatically text the engineer those opportunities directly to his cell phone.
That’s a pretty cool interaction. One filled with lots of back-and-forth engagement. Usually this would be reserved for different employees within your professional association. A marketing or salesperson, a customer service representative and even a recruitment ambassador when you think it through. But now, a chatbot is serving in all those roles at a fraction of the labor cost! And that compounds to multiple-member enquiries since chatbots aren’t limited by time and space.
Back-End Integration Automation
In our example, we mentioned key extraction areas where the chatbot collected details from the engineer. Things like contact information and payment processing. As it turns out, a chatbot is integrating itself with your existing software systems. So, when you need to process a credit card transaction through your e-Commerce tool, the chatbot will communicate as the intermediary. It’s providing accuracy and engagement, and works at the pace of the member conducting the transaction.
This works for your direct employees and their communication with members too. When a new job posting goes live in your membership job board database, the chatbot will push that SMS to all the opt-in members. It’s a harmonious partnership built on trust and reliability.
The integration element isn’t limited to only business-oriented features. You can provide value to your members with chatbot interactions that are fun and educational too. For example, conduct data-collecting surveys and capture member sentiment to inform future offerings. Create games that quiz or test member knowledge and award them with digital prizes. If you have physical locations you want to direct members to visit, you can lock onto their GPS coordinates and streamline travel activities.
The possibilities exist. You need only dream them.
The Learning Never Stops
There’s an old saying that goes, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach the man to fish and feed him for a lifetime.” We’re paraphrasing, but the point we are trying to make is that member education is an important part of running a successful professional association. Chatbots like to learn too! They are always listening to member thoughts and constantly improving to be the best chatbot version of themselves.
Fortunately for a platform like Vchat, a rich database filled with analytics affords your professional association the member insights you need to constantly innovate and improve. It tells you what training materials are bringing in the most traffic, the demographics behind visitors, and even the #1 questions on everyone’s mind (cake or pie?).
We invite you to take a chatbot for a spin. Reduce membership services overhead, increase productivity, and provide the best value in customer service you possibly can. We guarantee you’ll love your own chatbot.
If you are interested in learning more about chatbots, be sure to setup a demo with our representative and experience what happens behind the curtain. You can also try out some of our demo chatbots exclusive to the membership space.