Monday, April 20, 2009

Robocall Case Study - Part 1

At a recent conference several association speakers relayed success with robocalls, where there's a recorded message sent to members via auto-dialed phone calls. They've been used with grassroots political activity, reminders about dues bills, notices of upcoming meetings, and likely other reasons too.

Case study: A colleague decided to try using robocalls for an upcoming membership meeting. She has 800 members and cell phone numbers for nearly all of them. Used cell phone instead of office phone number.

A few lessons she learned:

1. If you're going to make a robocall, email to let them know first so they aren't surprised;
2. Test it on a small group first - not just supportive Directors but a few random members who aren't predisposed to liking it;
3. Good to use a familiar voice on the call. In this case, it was the chief staff person;

4. Have enough staff in the office to take the calls about it - specifically the "missed call" that may show up on their cell phone log (with the association phone number);
5. Members may be on vacation or out of the country - one member got a call at 4AM in Vietnam, and spent $18 to call to say the incoming robocall cost $8;
6. Since the call started at 4 on a Friday (potentially not a good time to use in the future), a whole group at a happy hour (at 5PM on a Friday) got simultaneous calls;
7. Use the feature that stops the dialing after a particular time and day. In her instance she was glad she switched the default from ending at 8PM to 6:30PM, and did not have it resume the next day.

The outcome:

1. Twelve of the people who called the association office the first hour inquiring about the robocall signed up for the meeting on the call;
2. They had highest sign-ups for any membership meeting;
3. Several members did call really angry and asked to be removed from future calls - but not a significant/large number;
4. They are now polling members about continued/future use of the program.

Have you used robocalls in your association? How did you use it - and what lessons learned?

(More on other association robocall uses in a future Part 2)

1 comment:

Greg Sax said...

I simply can't imagine robocalls being a long-term solution for association participation. As with e-blasts, there is a tendency for the various department interests within an association (government, member services, education, networking groups, event planning, etc.) to want to utilize these tools for their specific purposes.

Each of these well-intentioned folks may think that they are not being a burden to members, but all together it can become cumbersome. Besides, robocalls are like phone spam.

I receive occasional robocalls from places like my kid's school or Blockbuster, and I'm always like "yeah, yeah" and I hang up after a few words from the disembodied voice on the other end.

Phone anything is backwards looking. Why not work more interesting angles like Facebook and Twitter and anticipate the next great thing, whatever that may be?

On a side note, I love this blog, and I wish I'd had a chance to meet you at AEI.

G. Sax, Communications Manager, Mpls. Area Assoc. of REALTORS®