Members can look up their ID number now

It's a small thing. And there remains some work to do on it, but I'm quite proud of the fact that mem­bers of the orga­ni­za­tion I work for can now look up their mem­ber­ship num­ber on the organization's web­site.

It's worth men­tion­ing (to me any­way) because a lot of peo­ple need to do this. It's the key to fig­ur­ing out who can help them with their problem/concern, and it's how they get access to a num­ber of the ser­vices the orga­ni­za­tion offers them. But no one knows their num­ber.

Now they can look it up. 

It's taken a while to imple­ment. Change is slow. But the fact that the orga­ni­za­tion is will­ing to con­sider this at all and make any kind of move in that direc­tion is a tes­ta­ment to its good sense. But in truth, given how sim­ple a tech­ni­cal task it was to accom­plish, yes, all other things being equal, it shouldn't have taken any­where near that long.

We still oper­ate in an orga­ni­za­tional cul­ture where, when we talk about the web­site, we mostly talk about "what do we say", or "what goes on it" rather than "what can it do." Some of that is because - like a lot of places - it's run by the com­mu­ni­ca­tors. And the com­mu­ni­ca­tors are into broad­cast. Not one-to-one com­mu­ni­ca­tions. But that is exactly the need we're not meet­ing with our web­site.

We're actu­ally quite good at ensur­ing that there are pithy new news items on the site at all times. Much as we split hairs over how the head­line reads, what's the lede, etc so that we post what we deem to be per­fect words, we've really got that cov­ered.

Where we're lack­ing is found in the pri­vate emails sent to the site via our con­tact form. The ques­tions vis­i­tors ask, the prob­lems they want solved, are all clues as to what the web­site should do.

What aston­ishes me is how lit­tle inter­est there is from the parts of the orga­ni­za­tion that field these email queries (and sim­i­larly rou­tine phone calls and even faxes) in devel­op­ing the web appli­ca­tions to han­dle these inter­ac­tions. Given how hard it is to hire more bod­ies you'd think there would be more inter­est in tech­no­log­i­cal relief to work­load issues.

Obvi­ously, that's not always the case. The mem­ber­ship ID lookup couldn't have hap­pened with­out the sup­port and coop­er­a­tion of the mem­ber­ship depart­ment. And I'm hop­ing the lookup thing will reward their effort. And the sup­port of the tech­nol­ogy depart­ment - whose sys­tems hold the mem­ber­ship data - was also essen­tial.

I'm hop­ing this will be a first good exam­ple that will have a sort of demon­stra­tion effect. Because there's lots more to do.