Quick Member Integration

By Kim S. Nash  |  Posted 2005-12-07 Print this article Print

Megachurches like the 25,000-member World Changers of Atlanta can teach corporations the true meaning of customer relationship management. How? They can look at their data and identify members, determine who could be volunteering more, contribute how much

Within a week after a congregant becomes an official member, a packet tailored to his or her interests will be in the mail. A welcome letter delivers the person's new member ID number, which is to be written on subsequent offering envelopes and tithe checks. The number is used for tracking purposes in the software.

A partner kit, which is sent to people who follow the church but live too far from the World Dome to attend services, contains items such as a welcome letter, postage-paid envelopes for financial contributions and prayer requests, and a certificate saying the person's prayers and financial support help Dollar "change the world."

By analyzing changes to the database, Hosey can figure out where membership is growing or receding, which guides marketing outreach efforts.

Granted, churches have a built-in advantage over many corporations in obtaining data from customers, especially first-timers. People come to a church such as World Changers seeking a personal connection with God and like-minded people, and therefore usually want to share, says RaeAnn Slaybaugh, editor of Church Business, a Phoenix-based magazine.

A call from a church leader to inquire about personal hobbies and whether you have free time on weeknights to help the organization typically won't meet the same resistance as a follow-up call to someone who just bought a bath mat or chose a mutual fund, she says.

But corporate entities too often botch the data collection opportunities they do have, says Allen Ratta, a former pastor who is now chief executive of ConnectionPower, a ministry software vendor in Las Vegas. Customers are never more ripe for revealing golden personal data as when they are new, aglow from their first exchange with the organization.

Effective engagement can be as simple as dropping the bread crumbs for a future interaction, Ratta notes. An aware salesman stationed at the door can say, "I noticed you were looking at winter jackets. We will have a sale in a couple of weeks. Would you like a reminder call so you don't miss it?"

What happens instead, he says, is that people enter a store, wander around and leave anonymously. "That's a waste," he says.

Next page: Meet Customer Needs

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Senior Writer
Kim has covered the business of technology for 14 years, doing investigative work and writing about legal issues in the industry, including Microsoft Corp.'s antitrust trial. She has won numerous awards and has a B.S. degree in journalism from Boston University.

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