Membership Hack: Listening Tour

A team from the American Dental Association visits dentist offices to listen to members’ unmet needs.

How to hack it? Stephanie Moritz calls it “being a fly on the wall.” The American Dental Association’s chief communications officer, Moritz recently decided to conduct a “listening tour” with members as a way to understand their deeper needs and challenges.

The two- to four-hour office visits are part of ADA’s design thinking approach, “a concept that starts with the end user’s experience and builds out from there,” she says. “The first step is our listening tour to better understand our members’ unmet needs and motivations, as well as where, when, and how to best reach them.” So far, her team has made 10 office visits with dentists from a range of backgrounds and experience levels.

Why does it work? “Ultimately, what we’re hoping to do is develop new products and services that will help better meet needs today and tomorrow,” Moritz says. After the in-person visits, she and her team conduct follow-up interviews with several member panels. These are typically remote and digital encounters, where members can preview and test ideas.

What’s the bonus? ADA has already begun to see strong results from their listening tour and the application of design-thinking principles. “We saw these dentists at work and put ourselves in their shoes,” Moritz says. “And with the member panels we can quickly turn ideas or insights into actions.” For instance, Moritz heard that members were often busy but took time in the day to check Facebook. That led her communications and marketing team to try Facebook Live video streaming. ADA is currently testing this platform and hosting conversations regarding dental guidelines and procedures. “It’s a really cool way to engage differently with our members,” Moritz says.


Tim Ebner

By Tim Ebner

Tim Ebner is a senior editor for Associations Now. He covers membership, leadership, and governance issues. Email him with story ideas or news tips. MORE

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