What if (perish the thought!), we actually told members NO?
I actually suspect that most associations already do this, but we do it in the wrong way. We say "no" all the time. Only it's called, "That's against association policy." Which, aside from "we're out of bourbon," might be my least favorite four words in the English language.
You know what "that's against association policy" REALLY means?
- "I'm only line staff - I'm not actually empowered to decide anything."
- "I don't want to/feel like it."
- "Member service isn't my job."
- "Some day, far in the dim, dark past, someone decided that we don't that. I don't know why. Just because."
- "We have always done it that way." (my least favorite seven words in the English language, other than "by the way, also out of chocolate.")
Giving every staff person the ability to make decisions implies that sometimes she might say no. Which means it's really important to know how to say no in the right way. "No." "Why?" "Because I said so." Not the right way to handle members. "We can't do X (and there better be a reason other than "Because you were mean to me and I don't feel like helping you"), but we do want to make this right. What about Y instead?" Or "what else can we do to make this right?" Get the member involved in producing a solution, and you'll get her mind off the fact that you just said no to what she asked for and on to the fact that you're working with her to resolve the situation. Detractors can become your most passionate fans/evangelists *if* you handle them right.