After more than 30 years in the association industry, and in my 22nd year as a consultant, I can say one thing with certainty: things change.
I was reminded of this recently when viewing a demo of a new AMS with one of my clients. The AMS vendor pointed out that their system provides the association the option of allowing customers to cancel an existing meeting registration online, with no intervention required by staff.
There was a time not long ago when the idea of allowing a customer to cancel their meeting registration without talking to someone directly at the association was considered madness. But now, the expectation of the customer is one of complete self-sufficiency. As the customer, I should be able to manage my entire experience with you, up to and including canceling an order I've already paid for.
Another great example: I can still vividly remember being told by my AMS vendor, back in the mid-90s, that they had developed a great new tool for my website that would allow the members to update their own records. I was aghast! Let my members touch the data I had worked so very hard to clean up? They'll just make it worse, I thought!
And yet here we are, years later, and the idea that you wouldn't allow your members and customers to manage their own records is crazy talk.
We have to learn to be flexible enough to roll with the changes. My reaction to allowing my members to touch their own data was based in fear. Fear that they would "mess up" everything I had cleaned up. Fear that it would create more work, rather than make my life easier.
It is commonly said that humans fear change. But what humans really fear is uncertainty. And when you're asking for a big change (like allowing the unwashed masses to manage their own records!), you're introducing a lot of uncertainty.
Too often I see my clients refusing to change how they do things when offered the opportunity to do so. Don't let the fear of uncertainty keep you from embracing positive change! Because whether you like it or not, things change.
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