Connecting, Engaging and Tracking Members with CiviCRM

The French American Chamber of Commerce – New York (FACC-NY) is part of a national network of FACC chapters that promote business between France and the United States. The FACC–NY is comprised of diverse member businesses and offers a range of programs, providing growth opportunities to businesses and their communities.

Cividesk recently spoke with Jeremie Sautter, Associate Director of Membership and Martin Bischoff, Managing Director of the Chamber to learn more about their experiences transitioning to and using CiviCRM.

How were you managing your data before CiviCRM?
Before CiviCRM, we first used an Access database and then switched to another trade association and chamber of commerce management program, which was not a high performing tool. There was little possibility for customization and was not integrated with our website, so we could neither do online registration nor manage membership prospects.

Why did you choose CiviCRM and the service provider Cividesk?
We interviewed seven vendors during our RFP process and ultimately chose CiviCRM and Cividesk for several reasons. We knew some FACC chapters were already using CiviCRM with Cividesk’s support, as well as several other bi-national chambers. We liked that Cividesk staff had experience working with the French-American Chambers of Commerce, and their staff was aware of the challenges and opportunities for bi-lateral chambers. CiviCRM also offered the highest degree of flexibility for our needs since it is open-source, and since Cividesk has in-house developers, it’s almost like they are an editor of the software.

How was the implementation and training provided by Cividesk?
We felt the Cividesk team was always available to explain the details of the pre-launch process, and we had many conversations with the Cividesk team about this process and our customization needs. The training provided in person by Cividesk staff was detailed, but not too technical so all staff could understand. We also currently take advantage of the online tutorial videos and attending online classes offered weekly by Cividesk.

While we were implementing CiviCRM, we were also working with another service provider creating a new Drupal website. Although the process proved quite challenging given two vendors, Cividesk integrated CiviCRM into this new website, which offers FACC members the option to login and have access to a member dashboard with actions such as renewing their membership or contacting other members who have registered for the same event. We went live with our website and CiviCRM at the beginning of 2019. Four other FACC chapters use this same platform, which gives members access to a common membership directory.

How is the customized Membership Directory working?
We are very satisfied with the implementation of the directory since all the functions we required were configured by Cividesk. We needed search tools that had lots of options to search with keywords, and more customized functionalities were added so any member at any point in time can contact a member from any of the other participating FACC chapters. We also needed to track these “member to member” introductions so we can measure member engagement. This tracking required another customization that Cividesk implemented for us. Now, we can track which member contacted another member, when it occurred, and the category of the introduction. Our members have provided positive feedback that the Chamber’s image has become more modern since the implementation of the new website and CiviCRM.

How is Customer Service provided by Cividesk?
We are happy with the response time for having questions answered by Cividesk customer support; a response is provided within an hour or two and the resolution usually comes within a day or so. The Cividesk support staff is very knowledgeable from a technical standpoint and provides good explanations. They are proactive – both available and willing to talk over the phone, if further explanation is needed. It’s nice to have a more personal relationship with customer service and to have someone who is easily reachable and understandable, one of the benefits of working with a smaller service provider than a large software editor.

Which CiviCRM functionalities do you use the most?
We use smart groups to segment our database and target our communication. These groups are also used as mailing lists in CiviMail and we use the Mosaico extension extensively for our emailing campaigns. We use reporting as well on a weekly basis, and Cividesk created a customized membership report to track the number of introductions, events, jobs posted, email and phone conversations, intern hosting and other engagement activities. This report offers a snapshot of our member activity at any given time.

Cividesk developed another report that provides us with a set of key performance indicators associated with our events, such as the number of Americans and French attending, industries in which they work, as well as conversions, where non-members that attended an event then join our chamber. This customization tracks the efficiency of our outreach and events in recruiting new members. That ability to better target our membership outreach will help increase membership in the Chamber.

We use the event module to manage event registrations and communicate with the participants before and after our events. Since we are hosting more than 40 events per year, we need to rely on a robust event management system. We are now looking at the possibility to use the new extension CiviMobile so we can optimize the check-in process at events by using a QR code.

If you had some advice to give other organizations who are considering CiviCRM, what would you tell them?
There are lots of opportunities for customization with CiviCRM that will allow you to grow your organization. You just need to explore what CiviCRM can do and be accompanied in this process by a reliable and knowledgeable CiviCRM partner.