Quick Member IntegrationBy Kim S. Nash | Posted 2005-12-07 Email Print
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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.
- The Principle and Practice of Prosperity:Pastor Creflo A. Dollar Jr. built a congregation on a message of prosperity and conservatism; he built an organization on the practical application of those principles.
- Megamodel:The size of megachurches seems impersonal, but the customer-relationship model is as high-touch as you get.
- Pastor's Proposition:Give to the church and you'll prosper; buy a CD and you'll learn.
- Using Technology to Minister:Live Webcasts of sermons, Bibles on handhelds, daily e-mail blasts, online donations, and—everywhere—collect data to know who your congregants are and what they need from you.
- Keep Attendees Involved:Getting them to services and into volunteering is only the start of an effective member-loyalty program.
- Quick Member Integration:Right after first contact, the church reaches out to potential members with packets of prayers and information tailored to their interests and even their proximity to the church.
- Meet Customer Needs:Give 'em what they want and they'll keep coming back for more.
- Keeping Customer Contacts In-House:Running call centers and other contact mechanisms is tough, but World Changers keeps the core contacts in-house to keep the services focused.
- Preventing Churn:Spotting the members who might be ready to decamp and bring them back to into the fold.
- Mixed Blessings:The Rev. Dollar's methods and success—not to mention his last name—raise hackles.
- Base Case:Snapshot of World Changers' business, size and growth.
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