- Sun, July 03 2011
- Filed under: Fundraising essentials
For the next few days, I’m going to blog about customer service. Why? Because poor “customer service” by our organizations is the #1 reason donors stop supporting us. We’re not fast enough with receipts, compelling enough with thank-yous or clear enough about results. We don’t make our donors feel they are our partners in changing people’s lives.
I’m going to make one important point each day.
Today’s it’s this: You probably don’t even know how bad it is.
John Goodman, author of Strategic Customer Service, says that customer service has been so bad for so long that people have a “trained hopelessness.” His company, TARP Worldwide, has observed a decline in reported complaint rates, even regarding the most serious problems that customers encounter. This is “trained hopelessness,” a state in which a customer feels his/her complaint will do no good. So they don’t bother complaining to the organization. But they are not silent elsewhere. Customers who perceive a problem with company policies and practices, but do not complain, are usually 20-30% less loyal and spread only ambivalent or negative word of mouth.
“What you don’t hear could be causing the most damage,” says Goodman.
So what do you do? Here are some pointers to get you in better touch with how your donors are feeling.
1. Call your donors and see how they perceive you.
2. If your donors are unhappy with a policy or situation at your organization but you can’t change it, explain the rationale. Even if they don’t like the reality, they’ll be more sympathetic. If you can change it, eliminate what bothers donors.
3. Train your staff to ask for feedback and to recognize subtle complaints.
For more, check out John’s book here.