By Caryl Roberts, Membership and Operations Manager
sn't it easy to get into a rut? Getting up, shower, working, sleeping. Routine is comfortable and easy, which usually means that you carry out tasks as efficiently as possible within your ability. But, the disadvantage of this ideal little world is no development, no vision and no learning about new new things. We learn from birth right through to the day we die and an opportunity to learn through mistakes, talking, debating, and talking to new people.
So over the last few months I have ventured out into the big wide world to learn and hear more from membership businesses and organisations, to learn more about our current systems and how they could work better for us as a union.
My destination after long train journey from Machynlleth to London was a Zoho conference which is our CRM company (Customer Relationship Management). This is the system that keeps all our members and prospective members details. The system allows us to keep an electronic file of all calls, casework and forms completed for members. This has been a big step forward for us in reducing our use of paper and wasteful printing.
The system lives in the “cloud” which means that union staff can log in to the system from any computer from any location (with a password of course!) The system also sends text messages and emails automatically from the system. This enables us to keep track of the number of times we contact members, and what information we share to ensure that there is no duplication.
The next step following the conference is to see how we can weave the union’s system into the insurance company's clever system so that we can make sure that we share opportunities to sell insurance or offer membership. I also met a company that specialised in luxury cars and helicopters… not sure if there is a future for that partnership to be honest…
I was back in London within two weeks for a conference of the UK's largest membership organization. Some of the highlights for me in terms of stimulating new ideas were hearing some secrets from the National Trust, British Horse Society, British Museum and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ Marketing Managers. Some of the main themes running through most of the speakers' speeches were to improve how we communicate the value of services and the benefits of membership.
We tend to assume that everyone knows what is available in their membership pack. But that is not true and many of our members pay large fees for consultants to complete their forms although the service is part of their membership pack.
Finally I travelled to Manchester to join the Managing Director of the insurance company - Roger Van Praet and a few conscientious members of his team without forgetting Dafydd P! This was a BIBA conference - British Insurers Brokers' Association. The most stylish conference I have ever seen. Huge insurance companies like Legal and General, NIG, ERS, Aviva and AXA together with hundreds of medium-sized companies trying their best to showcase their services to brokers.
The reason for going to this conference was to get a glimpse of the world in which my insurance colleagues work within. I wanted to understand and see the world that FUW Insurance exisits in. It was an eye opener to the pressure the business is carrying due to the size of the business, it was very encouraging to see the companies tripping over each other to create a relationship with the FUW.
By the time I came home I was desperate to be in the rut and the comforatble routine. But now my head is spinning with new ideas and more than anything full of enthusiasm on how to develop our services. Some of our processes will have to be changed and new ideas will be piloted but it is clear that the core of our services is spot on. Thank goodness that enthusiasm is infectious!