French-Mexican Chamber of Commerce

Improving Member Loyalty with CiviCRM

The French-Mexican Chamber of Commerce promotes business development between France and Mexico by offering services to their members and the community and coordinating events which strengthen French-Mexican business alliances. The Chamber began using CiviCRM in the summer of 2013 as a new Cividesk customer.

Julie Riotte, director of the Chamber, and Hajer Najjar, assistant director, recently spoke with Cividesk about their experiences.

What type of systems did you have in place before CiviCRM and why did you choose it?
Before making the transition to CiviCRM, we were using Excel spreadsheets shared on a server. However, we wanted to have more meaningful contact with our members, keep better track of membership and also increase attendance at our events by improving the way we handled event registration and promotion. CiviCRM allows us to do all of those things and is easy to use. Another great feature of CiviCRM is the fact that it’s available in different languages, we currently use the Spanish version in our office.

Which functionality do you find the most useful for your organization?
We use many of the event management features including the creation of online event registration pages. Having online event registration pages on our website save us a lot of time since we don’t have to register manually each participant. Before CiviCRM, we took registrations over the phone. Many calls would come in at the last minute and it was a lot of administrative work to do the day before an event. CiviCRM allows for us to better prepare for events by creating names badges and printing out participants lists through features in the database.

We find CiviCRM great for keeping track of membership expiration dates, as well as being able to easily access the information regarding our membership database. We are not yet using the automatic membership renewals reminders since we need to determine first the primary contact for each of our member organizations, but once that is done, we plan on implementing the automatic renewals.

Another great feature is the synchronization developed by Cividesk between our Typo3 based online membership directory and CiviCRM. Our online membership directory is now automatically populated and updated with membership information coming from the CRM including member organization name, logo, address and name of the representatives. There is no longer a need to manually update the directory. Only members in good standing are included in the directory and all the expired members are automatically removed. That’s a great incentive for our members to renew their membership.

This useful feature allows us to always have an updated directory. It’s also a great membership benefit for our members as they have access to the directory including all of their membership information using their login credentials. An additional development that Cividesk recently provided allows for member representatives who don’t want their name to be listed in the directory to be automatically excluded.

We also have an employment page created in CiviCRM that saves us time compared to our system before when we were organizing all the data in an Excel spreadsheet. Our contacts (candidates and employers) can register online through the CiviCRM page and provide many employment details. Then it’s easy to search the different fields to match potential employees with employers.

And lastly, we also do many searches in CiviCRM with multiple criteria and are impressed with the performance of the database.

Why did you choose Cividesk to help you in this process?
Cividesk was already working with several organizations from the network of French Chambers of Commerce abroad so we had good recommendations about their services. The staff is also fluent in French which was a bonus for us since we prefer to work in our native language. It was a long process on our end to decide on a new system and Cividesk persevered and was patient in waiting for us to make our choice. The staff at Cividesk is very prompt in replying to questions and we appreciate their expertise with CiviCRM.

How was the implementation and training provided by Cividesk?
It’s a big process to transition over to a new system, but we chose a good time to tackle the project during the summer when we were not as busy. It worked well for us to make the transition during a slower time in our organization and we were also motivated to do it since we knew it would improve our daily work. The training sessions on how to use the CRM were all done in French, which was very helpful for our team.

What has been the impact of CiviCRM on your organization?
It’s easier to track contacts and know their history, which events they attended, what is happening with their membership, which service they bought and how much they paid. This has resulted in more loyalty with our members. We have increased attendance at our events since it’s easier to sign up online. We’re also more organized as a staff and we get things done quicker than before. It’s been about one year since we started using CiviCRM, and the membership renewal process is much more organized. Another benefit for our chamber is the ability in CiviCRM to keep track of which services contacts have used and how much revenue these services generated. We can better evaluate the services that we offer and make strategic decisions based on this data.

What kind of advice would you give to an organization who is thinking about implementing CiviCRM ?
CiviCRM allows your organization to be more efficient, but you need to make sure that all of the staff is using it. I think it’s important to establish some rules and a procedure to encourage employees to use the CRM, and do this right at the beginning when the system is newly implemented, since staff can be resistant to new technology and new ways of performing their tasks. I think it requires the leadership of the head of the organization to support every staff member in this change, but it’s definitely worth it.