Zone 34

Rotary Tool Box

Tool # 1- Customers

 

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With this tool, we ask if the members of a Rotary Club are its customers, and if so, how should we think about how they decide to continue being Rotarians, or decide to leave.

Does a Rotary Club have customers?

 

For sure a club gets dues and free time from all of its members, right?  That sounds like they are customers to me! So as Rotary Club officers and leaders, let's put on a set of glasses - and through them we see all Rotarians as customers.

 

We know that customers of most businesses rarely voice their complaints and most often "vote with their feet"....they go to where they get the most value for what they pay.  One of Rotary's challenges is retention of members; we get lots of new members but then we lose them!  If we improved our retention rate a small percentage, we would have much healthier clubs.  When we lose a Rotarian, he or she is voting with his or her feet...are we getting the feedback?

 

Any time we are the customer we think about two things - what we are getting and what we are paying.  When we feel like we are getting more that we are paying, we call that "value".  A $50 dinner may be a great value or a $5 burger may be a terrible value all depending upon the costs and benefits that we perceive.

 

First let's look at how we think about what we are paying, and it's not just the cash we are handing over.  What we are paying includes all of the hassles and inconveniences that we encounter.  When we stop for a quick burger, how long so we have to wait in line, does the person serving us understand what we want and are their friendly?  After we drive away and open the sack, do we find out that something we ordered is missing?  Let's call all of this the Total Cost of the what we are buying.

 

Then we weigh the Total Cost against the benefits of what we received in exchange.  Every time we shop we scan our list of expectations and any significant shortcoming is a rub that causes us to ask....where would be a better place for me to get what I want?

 

Just as the Total Cost includes more than the price, the Total Benefits include more than the simple commodity - in the case of a burger, a bun, a piece of meat, and if we pay enough, a slice of tomato and leaf of lettuce. 

 

What might some Rotarians name as the Total Benefits of being in his or her Rotary Club on any particular day?

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a pleasant meal

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to be greeted by friends who know us and care about us

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to hear an interesting speaker

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to have their time respected and well used

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to have a laugh

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to have the opportunity to develop a worthwhile contact in our town

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to be challenged to grow and contribute in some way

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to increase our awareness of some aspect of our town

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to gain some insight that could help us in our business or organization or career

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to meet someone whom we would like to do business with

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to feel valued and included in a respected group

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to be a part of an organization that reaches around the world

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to know that we have made a difference in our community

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to know that we have made a difference in the world

 

Now that we have begun a list of the benefits, what may be included in the Total Cost of being a member of a Rotary Club?

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paying membership dues

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attendance at meetings (whenever they have little value)

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time spent participating in Club Board and Committee meetings

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time spent learning to successfully fill our position in our club

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time spent sharing in the leadership of our club (whenever it is poorly organized)

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any time we feel a lack of respect or lack of appreciation

 

As a Rotarian, what's on your own list of Total Benefits and Total Costs of Rotary?

 

Now lets go back to the value proposition that we promise to every new member we recruit - that the Total Benefits will exceed the Total Costs.

 

Make a list of ten specific ways that you could increase the Total Benefits and/or reduce the Total Costs for the members of your Rotary Club?

 

Remember the hassles of the fast food burger.  What about consistency and how it impacts the value received....oops no fries in the bag?  Do we really trust the organization to deliver? 

 

Trust has three essential components - consistency, competency and integrity.  Are we consistent in delivering the benefits?  Are we as leaders competent in doing our job?  Do we shoot straight and tell the truth?  If any one of these is missing in a relationship, trust is damaged or destroyed.  We may appreciate a person as full of integrity and genuinely competent but if we never know when they will show up we are not sure that we can trust them.

 

So examine how your club deliver on the benefits:

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are the benefits random or consistent or rare?

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are the leaders competent in how they lead?

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is every member respected and is communication straight up?

 

And while we are on the subject of “customer service”, let’s think about “moments of truth” as identified by Jan Carlzon of Scandinavian Airlines.  Every contact, email, handshake with a leader, and speaker is a moment of truth that shapes the member’s perception of his or her benefits and costs of being a Rotarian.

 

By seeing members of your Rotary Club as customers, we can more clearly appreciate the reality that the Total Benefits must consistently exceed the Total Cost of membership for every member of the club.  If not, we should not be surprised when they leave.