Jennifer Gilbert Gebhardt 2013-07-09 00:33:33
Asking the Tough Questions Exit Interviews Provide Insights Into Retaining Members Saying goodbye to members is something Lions never want to do. But when a member does leave, Lions often wonder why. “After a member left our club, he told me he did not feel that it was necessary to explain his reasons. He was unhappy with something, but how do we correct the problem if we don’t know what happened?” asks Lion Rosa Branco of Cumberland, Rhode Island. Some answers can be found by conducting exit interviews with departing members. The Cumberland Lions had casually attempted this through speaking with those leaving, but the results were lackluster. After trying out a written exit interview this year, Branco has found that former Lions are likely to be candid and specific. “I think by using a written format we can get better insights. People need to have time to really think and then put their comments in writing. Plus, the written responses can be reviewed as needed because there is a paper trail,” says Branco. With the goal of improving retention, Token Creek Lion Tara Vraniak has been mailing exit surveys for Wisconsin’s District 27-D1 since 2009. With a 30 percent response rate, this centralized method is working well for the district. “I get a lot of written responses because I am an independent source. People can put their true feelings down on paper,” she says. Vraniak, a Global Membership Team member, compiles and shares the findings with clubs, which can then take necessary action and incorporate this vital information into the Club Excellence Process. Along with the survey, Vraniak includes a letter stressing its importance and a postage-paid return envelope to make the process simple for respondents. “Make it easy to fill out and return. And make sure you are diligent in getting the surveys out quickly,” Vraniak advises. Clubs can design their own survey or use LCI’s Former Member Questionnaire, which poses not only questions regarding reasons for leaving but also invites opinions about the club’s service projects, ideas for improvements and suggestions for changes that may have retained the member. No matter how critical the feedback is, it must be welcomed, says Vraniak. “Take this feedback in a positive way. People are unhappy with their clubs for many different reasons and we can’t change unless we understand the mistakes we are making. It is then important to take action on those problem areas.” Branco concurs. “Criticism is constructive and we can learn how to make improvements by knowing exactly what we are doing wrong, instead of just making educated guesses.” Digital LION View the Former Member Questionnaire in LCI’s new Member Satisfaction Guide at www.lionmagazine.org.
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