The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

One of my priorities as president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) is to ensure the Chamber is well-positioned to meet the needs of our growing and diverse membership, now and in the future.

Our current membership comprises more women, more nationalities, and a greater diversity of company types and sizes than ever before. This has occurred in tandem with a changing business environment in Japan that is creating new opportunities and challenges for US companies. The ACCJ must adapt to these changes to ensure that we continue to meet the needs of our members. That is why member centricity is an essential area of focus in 2018.

With support from the board of governors, the ACCJ launched the Membership Value Project (MVP) this year. The goal of this initiative is to assess our membership value proposition to ensure that it aligns with member needs. To that end, we reviewed several years’ worth of member feedback and research, and gathered fresh input. We now need to move beyond research and take concrete steps to more closely align the ACCJ value proposition to membership needs. In instances where we cannot do so, we should explain why.

More specifically, the MVP project has three key objectives:

  1. Evaluate whether ACCJ membership categories represent the evolving membership.
  2. Review the value proposition of each membership category to ensure alignment with member priorities and the ACCJ’s three pillars of advocacy, networking, and information.
  3. Align the dues structure to the membership value proposition desired by members.

The input of ACCJ members is critical to the success of the MVP. The project team heard your views in focus groups and interviews, as well as via email, the website, social media, and at program events. I want to thank you for your engagement and let you know that your feedback has clearly revealed the needs of our present membership.

GUIDANCE
Many of the themes that have emerged from the research are not new. There is an expressed desire for a more strategic approach to communications and information dissemination, greater clarity of service offerings, more customized support from the chamber, and enhanced onboarding and orientation for our new members. We also heard that the membership categories and benefits do not consistently meet the needs of all members in our large and diverse network—with company size driving many of these needs.

These findings further confirm that this initiative is both timely and essential. The MVP project team will now evaluate these research efforts in tandem with financial analysis, current demographics, and industry best practices, and will propose recommendations for changes to ensure alignment with our current membership needs and the sustainability of the chamber.

We have already made changes to improve the member experi­ence, including more frequent and transparent communications and two new programs—the Small Company CEO Advisory Council and the F500 CEO Advisory Council—to ensure that key member segments have direct input into chamber activities.

COMMUNICATION
Transparency and member feedback will continue to be important guiding principles of the MVP. At the April Leadership Forum and April Town Hall, more than 100 ACCJ members participated in discussion about the MVP research findings. In May, we will share any recommended changes with you via our website and a webinar session, and we look forward to your feedback. The board of governors will also review and discuss MVP recommendations at our May and June meetings.

Please continue to keep an eye out for email communications and other opportunities for engagement as we make progress.

Thank you for your support of the MVP initiative as we continue to take steps to ensure that your chamber is meeting your needs. As always, you can reach me with any comments or questions at: sshah@accj.or.jp.

Sachin N. Shah is ACCJ President.
The goal of this initiative is to evaluate our membership value proposition to ensure that it aligns with member needs.