Web Resources for all YMCAs: An Introduction to Open Y

By | Industry, Mission Delivery, Online, Organizational Health | No Comments

We live in a world of resource constraints. That’s true no matter your budget. At some point, the need always surpasses the ability to meet it. What’s a good solution? I think it’s all about fighting our inner two-year-old and sharing more.

If you need a WIFM (what’s in it for me), how about innovation and growth? When teamwork happens the way it’s supposed to happen, amazing things can come out of it. When everyone in a group is equally invested in the greater goal, the result is everyone working faster, finding mistakes more easily, and innovating better. Drawing on the knowledge of others is crucial in getting to the best result. This concept has spawned an entire movement of sharing.

Ever heard of open source software or collaborative work environments? These are two examples in the technology world where individuals come together and contribute to something in the hopes of making it better. Just like our parents told us, the concept of sharing is wildly successful. And now, sharing is impacting a non-profit movement that Daxko has been supporting for 10 years: the YMCAs. Behold the Open Y initiative.

In 2016, a small group of Ys recognized that they had access to modern, engaging website development resources that weren’t available to all Ys. Rather than taking the path of least resistance and merely hoping someone else would solve the problem, these leaders came together and decided to be the change by developing their content management systems on the open source functionality, Drupal 8. What this means is that every Y can now make use of the development that these few pioneers started. And every time someone develops something new with this source, they can publish it for others to use as well.  At the Open Y Summit last week, it was invigorating to see this trend of collaboration come to life and open the eyes of 130 people, all focused on bringing greater opportunity to the YMCA movement.

Working outside of your own association can seem tedious and time-consuming. However, as the Open Y has already shown, bringing unique minds together is worth it because when a group of people focuses on achieving a big, common goal they create new, synergistic energy. This is how dreams of moon shots become reality. As a vested partner in the YMCA movement, I’m honored to be able to contribute to this new reality.

Want to learn more about Open Y and see how you can play a role in change?

Register to attend “An Introduction to Open Y” on Thursday, October 12, at 1:00pm CST. Nathan Maehren (Sr. VP, Digital at YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities) and Courtney Glover (Director of Digital Strategy at YMCA of Greater Houston), both part of the original group that started Open Y, will walk us through how this initiative came to be and how you can help it grow.

Following Up on Feedback

By | Customer Experience, Engagement, Industry | No Comments

This is the second in a series of posts about how we utilize customer feedback. Catch the first post, Our Customer Survey Philosophy, here.

It’s the new year! As I am sure you are at this time of year, we are goal setting. We want to be the Most Loved software partner in the health & fitness space and that isn’t just a 2017 goal it is our vision for the future…and we believe your feedback is a big part of what will help us achieve that goal.

Ever wonder what happens after you complete our survey?

As a follow up to my last blog post, I want to give you an update on our actions since our most recent request for your feedback on how we can get better at providing you and your organization. Our mission is to become the Most Loved and in order to do that, we must earn your trust and deliver exceptional experiences with every interaction you have with our team and our products.

We want to thank the 550+ people who took the time to share opinions and experiences with us. We learned a lot from the survey comments and we were able to find themes throughout the comments that helped us uncover actionable items.

Our team reached out to over 180 respondents to get more information on your comments in order to take appropriate actions. Here’s just a few of the outcomes you can expect from the feedback we received:

  1. Improved communication on our product road map including delivery timeframes
  2. Enhancements to our training offerings for all platforms
  3. Friday Free Consulting time for our CSI/SpectrumNG customers (and the same offer stands for our Daxko Operations customers as always!)
  4. Webinars showcasing product release enhancements and best practices
  5. Consistency in system performance and fast resolution to long term cases

This isn’t the end of the story. We will continue reaching out to more of you each quarter following our survey to ensure everyone has a chance to be heard. Of course, your input is welcome at any time outside of our quarterly surveys as well. My email is mharrison@daxko.com.

What Language does your Software Speak?

By | Customer Experience, Engagement, Industry, Membership, Mission Delivery | No Comments

mtenhakenThis is a guest post from Mark Ten Haken, Director of Information Systems for the Greater Green Bay YMCA. In this post, Mark shares his experiences when searching and selecting a new YMCA software provider. 

Guppy, SACC, AOA, MFA, Engagement, Retention, Termination, Renewal….what language is that? I bet if you show that list of terms and acronyms to somebody outside the Y, you get an entirely different set of answers than if you show them to Y staff. Yes, we at the Y speak our own language but does the software we use understand it?

When we started the process of selecting a software vendor, we developed an extensive list of functionality requirements. Can the software handle 2nd child discounts? What about 3rd party billing? Is there social media integration? Can we draft people other than the 1st and 15th of the month? Is there a simple way to print invoices? Will the software handle gift cards to our expectations? Is there a convenient way for people to join online? Can you divide your campaign into teams? Are there reports for this…are there reports for that? ….well, you get the idea. These things (and more) are all important things to consider when selecting a software vendor.

After you have put together your long list of functionality requirements. After you have developed the surveys you will distribute to staff to evaluate vendors. After you have crossed your ‘t’s and dotted your ‘i’s, there may be one final question that you should consider that may be the most important one of all; what software best speaks the Y language? At the surface this may seem insignificant or overly simplified, but after you give it some thought, the answer to the question in invaluable.

For a decade, we struggled with a piece of software that got lost in translation. What we considered a terminated membership meant something different in the software we were using. A renewal wasn’t really a renewal as we think of it. Retention was hard to measure when the system didn’t quite know how to treat a renewal or termination…an upgrade from an adult membership to a family membership? …whew!.. that really skewed the retention measurement. What about member engagement?…that might as well been Martian language to the software we were using because it didn’t understand the concept. How do we expect staff to be effective and efficient when they, and the software they are utilizing to better serve and engage members, speak two different languages?

We shouldn’t need translation between all the terms, concepts and measurements that are involved with the Y model and the software that serves us. We shouldn’t need a translator to accurately measure what the Y considers to be a terminated member, a membership renewal, or a retained member even if the member upgrades from adult to family. We shouldn’t need to compromise customer service because answers are hard to find. We shouldn’t need to bend and mold our way of doing things to fit into the confines of a piece of software that doesn’t speak our language.

We should expect our software to understand social media integration. We should expect our software to accurately measure year over year terminations and new member comparisons. We should expect the software that we use to understand MFA, SACC and AOA. We should expect our software to understand the need to quickly serve and provide answers to members either online or at our front desks. We certainly should expect our software to intimately understand and measure member engagement so we can better serve our members. We should expect our software to speak the Y language. Daxko speaks our language. What language does your software speak?

Are your new members engaged? Or, are they leaving?

By | Customer Experience, Engage, Engagement, Industry, Marketing, Membership | 3 Comments

Mid-February is often regarded as the time when new members who haven’t been engaged and who are not using their membership start to bail. Is your organization beginning to lose new members? If so, don’t lose hope! We have ideas to engage your members and encourage some of them to stay for the long haul.
Here are eight great ways to work your way into the hearts of these new members:

    1. Focus on in-person conversations with new members. There are tools that help staff gain visibility into which new members are in your facility at any given time. These tools help staff understand which members to speak with so they can start identifying what interests them. Don’t have an engagement tool or customer relationship manager (CRM)? Your staff can still work on face-to-face conversations – paying particular attention to new gym-goers or those who may need a little extra love. [Click here to read how the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast is taking their face-to-face interactions to the net level.]
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    2. “We love our Wellness Staff” initiatives. Each week offer a themed gathering to allow members to meet and greet staff members from a particular area. For example, Tuesday night could be “We love our Swim Instructors” allowing members to meet and ask questions with the swim staff.
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    3. Create a group of new members or new members with specific needs and follow that group. This can be done either manually or through your engagement system to give staff extra incentive to follow up with this group. For example, you could build a group of new members that have been absent for the last two weeks to be sure to speak with this at-risk group when they are at your center.
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    4. Group Exercise Open House. Invite your members to join the wellness staff in the Group Exercise room with water and fruit to learn more about the types of classes offered. This can help de-mystify group exercise to someone who might feel overwhelmed.
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    5. Offer newbie-friendly introductory group exercise classes. Offer a series of introductory classes that are shorter and offer more time for setup to encourage new members to try them out. Spin is a class new members may find intimidating so offer a 30-minute spin class and have the instructor go through how to properly set up the spin bike at the beginning of each introductory class.
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    6. Family-night. Offer a family fun night with games or activities that encourage new members to get the whole family involved. Some ideas? Show a movie at the indoor pool? Offer a silly family-dance or Zumba class with glow sticks. Drawing the whole family into the membership makes it more likely new members will stick around.
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    7. Follow up. Have staff conversations with new members from the above events trigger a follow-up task. When staff are speaking with new members, have them try to determine a program or volunteer interest. Then, those conversations can trigger follow-up tasks from a full-time staff member in the area of interest.
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    8. Email Missing Members. Create a list of members that have been missing the last few weeks. Email those members with a little encouragement, an incentive, or a class suggestion.