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.