The Survey Said
In February, ASTM International conducted a survey of its members to measure their satisfaction with their ASTM membership and its benefits, as well as ASTM standards and publications, the website, committee meetings and staff. The survey was sent to approximately 18,000 members and more than 3,200 responded for an impressive 18 percent return.
The members returning the survey represented more than 20 different industries. Respondents varied in years of ASTM membership and experience with ASTM technical committee meetings. Overall, the members responding represented a nice cross section of the ASTM membership.
We were happy to see results that show ASTM International's members are pleased with the products and services in each category. However, the real value of the survey came from reading the thousands of comments that our members provided. Below is a snapshot of the average ratings we received and, more important, a summary of the initiatives that ASTM is taking in response to comments requesting service enhancements.
In this section, ASTM targeted satisfaction with the membership fee ($75 for participating members and $400 for organizational members) and the level of importance of each member benefit.
More than 96 percent of those responding indicated that they were satisfied with the membership fee. Table 1 provides the average importance rating for each member benefit.
Numerous members expressed a desire for an alternative benefit to the free volume of the Annual Book of ASTM Standards. Some suggestions included a certain number of free downloads or a free ASTM Special Technical Publication or journal subscription. ASTM publications staff will be investigating these member benefit options as well as others for the future.
This section focused on the member meeting experience at ASTM International committee weeks. ASTM holds nine committee weeks per year at which 20-30 committees meet at a single hotel in the United States. ASTM supports meetings at committee weeks with regular requirements such as meeting rooms, a team of staff members, audio visual equipment, copying services, etc. Table 2 provides the average satisfaction rating for each aspect of meetings support. Approximately two-thirds of the members responding to the survey had experienced a committee week.
Numerous members requested wireless capability in the meeting rooms. Other members identified the need for enhanced audio visual, especially as it relates to holding a WebEx meeting on site. ASTM is addressing both of these requests and will strive to meet these needs.
This section of the survey measured member satisfaction with the "MyCommittees" portion of the ASTM website and its standards development tools. Table 3 shows the average satisfaction rating for each aspect of "MyCommittees" and related standards tools.
Over the past five years, ASTM has launched numerous new online tools that assist main committee officers, subcommittee chairmen and members in preparing for upcoming meetings. In their responses to this section of the survey, some members noted difficulty in navigating through the information and tools in the "MyCommittees" area and identified aspects of the ASTM collaboration areas that can be improved. In response, a team of ASTM staff has begun interviewing users of the collaboration areas and is already working on improvements that will make it easier to register a collaboration area, allow for simpler navigation and provide a more interactive environment.
This section of the survey was intended to measure satisfaction with the quality, variety and availability of different formats for ASTM International standards and publications. Respondents indicated that online products are preferred: 29 percent preferred print and 31 percent preferred CD-ROM/DVD. ASTM will continue to monitor preferences regarding online products to ensure that our members are receiving their information in the desired format. See Table 4 for some results of this section of the survey.
The relationship between staff and the membership is a critical component of ASTM International's organizational success. The average rating for staff support was a 4.5 out of 5, and there were hundreds of compliments directed at specific ASTM employees. ASTM will continue to provide the best support possible so that our members can focus on developing the high quality standards needed for their industries.
This section of the survey gauged the level of importance of ASTM International to its members. The average ratings shown in Table 5 indicate that our members place a high priority on the development and use of ASTM standards.
This section of the survey measured member satisfaction with the technical quality of ASTM standards as well as the speed of the standards development process. Some members commented that although the process can sometimes be slow, the pace is necessary in order to develop a high quality standard. ASTM has leveraged technology (WebEx meetings, online collaboration areas, etc.) to greatly reduce the standards development cycle time in recent years. The time to develop a new standard has been reduced to an average of 18 months and revisions to an average of less than six months. ASTM staff will continue to enhance existing tools and look toward new tools that will help accelerate the development of standards without compromising their technical quality.
The survey was valuable to ASTM staff, which now has a better understanding of the satisfaction level of our members even as we have gained some insightful ideas on how we can improve in all areas. ASTM International is planning to conduct the membership satisfaction survey every three to four years so that we can monitor performance and enhance the overall member experience.Daniel Smith is assistant vice president of technical committee operations at ASTM International.