Previous research by RSS indicated that the three most common reasons for members not renewing their membership were retirement, change of career and cost. Whilst nothing could be done about the first two of these reasons, RSS were keen to ensure that members were aware of the full value of membership benefits when considering costs.
The RSS annual membership renewal date is the 1st January each year. The membership renewal process starts early in October each year, with an email reinforcing membership benefits and to establish if contact details have changed. A renewal notice is then sent via email at the end of November. Further emails are sent throughout December and January, which is when the majority of members renew their membership. If a member has not renewed by the end of March, membership benefits are then suspended. Lapsed members then receive a grace period until end of June – during this period members retain the title of fellow but all services are suspended. Their membership is then defaulted if payment has not been received by the end of June.
RSS commissioned Chord to deliver a research campaign to find out:
Chord were asked to contact 500 members who had lapsed over the last two years.
Prior to making telephone contact, all lapsed members received an email inviting them to complete an online survey. This included lapsed members whose telephone numbers were registered on the Corporate / Telephone Preference Service (C/TPS) registers, that could not be telephoned.
Chord combined telephone and online surveying to maximise reach and response rates. This was achieved by using SNAP professional survey software and Chord’s online telephone campaign management software to:
Chord made 1,462 telephone calls in total:
Chord prepared a detailed enhanced report to accompany the survey data. The colourful and informative report presented the results question by question. As well as quantitative results, the report included qualitative responses in the form of verbatim comments, to provide RSS with a clear commentary to support the statistics and tables.
The main reasons for not renewing membership included cost, value for money and changes in personal circumstances. Carefully worded follow up questioning drew out useful qualitative information for each of these reasons.
Qualitative questioning for what RSS could have done to make members stay also elicited open, honest and full responses offering RSS actionable insight. Lapsed members were grateful for the opportunity to give detailed feedback and opinions via the survey and around half said that they would consider re-joining now or in the future.
Chord also reported anecdotal trends that included:
Chord impressed us with their membership sector knowledge and their eagerness to understand RSS and what we aim to achieve. Their team are very professional, which ensured that our members felt valued and gave their feedback freely, which is great. The results demonstrated clearly what we need to do and how to prioritise the changes that we need to make.Nicola EmmersonDirector of Membership and Professional Affairs, The Royal Statistical Society