Rules of Engagement: California Dental Association’s Concierge Calling

How the California Dental Association is making first-year members feel welcome by picking up the phone.

With so many ways to engage members online, it’s easy to forget the power of a simple phone call. At the California Dental Association (CDA), staff is picking up the phone to boost engagement among first-year members. Here’s how they do it:

It’s really taking the legwork and time to do just a very simple welcome email but make it applicable, not just a generalization.

1. Make a personal welcome call.

CDA’s Member Concierge Terry Fong personally calls each new member—about 1,000 in a year—to welcome them and gather their background information. She follows up with a brief email recommending benefits specific to the member’s needs. “It’s really taking the legwork and time to do just a very simple welcome email but make it applicable, not just a generalization,” says Conor McNulty, director of member programs at CDA.

2. Measure engagement among contacted members.

Fong also sends another message at each member’s six-month mark, part of a 12-month series of onboarding messages. “We look at the amount of our members in the first year that have taken advantage of one of five major benefits, and we want to see how does this compare to previous years, the engagement level of new members that … have been contacted by Terry through the program,” McNulty says.

3. Share insights with staff.

Based on her calls with members, Fong sends a weekly all-staff email that highlights one new member’s story. “They definitely humanize our membership,” McNulty says. And her interactions give her a better understanding of CDA members’ lives than most of her colleagues have. “Terry comes into our meetings sometimes and we’re sitting around making assumptions, and she says, ‘You know what, I had six calls last week from this area of LA and, guess what, our assumptions may not be right,’” McNulty says. “It’s nice to have that insight.”


Joe Rominiecki

By Joe Rominiecki

Joe Rominiecki, manager of communications at the Entomological Society of America, is a former senior editor at Associations Now. MORE

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