In the run up to Christmas, I’m working with Kevin Baughen to put our heads together to work through the examples of various charity and fundraising communications we’ve seen in 2012 and try to share the 12 tips we think they’ve taught us.
Some will be new and some will be downright obvious but it’s always worth being reminded of the things that work or that can scupper our results, right.
We also want to try and put some thought around the examples to help folks put the ideas into practices (rather than just share an image of a direct mail pack).
You can read Kevin’s first three tips on his blog. In the meantime, here are tips four to six.
4. Review your processes to make sure they are donor focussed
When was the last time you checked your processes from a donor perspective? It’s something that’s been on my to do list all year and I’ve finally got round to doing it in the last few weeks.
I wished I’d done it six months earlier, as it uncovered some interesting findings. For example, I discovered that we only thank donors who give via CAF when the money comes into our bank (which makes financial reconciliation easier), but this means that donors end up waiting four to six weeks for a thank you letter.
As we pride ourselves on the speed of our thank you’s (we generally aim for 48 hours max), then it is something we needed to address and improve from a donor perspective.
We also found areas for improvement with our communications with in-memoriam donors, event supporters and people who stop their regular giving.
5. Setting donor care standard benchmarks: how mystery shopping can help
One of the best ways to check your donor care performance and processes is through mystery shopping. This doesn’t have to expensive or difficult to do. Enlist some friends. Get them to make a donation, send an e-mail enquiry or ring up for information. It’s amazing what you can discover.
You’ll hopefully find some bright spots, but there are also likely to be areas for improvement. For example, when I’ve done this in the past, I’ve found that we were really good on the phone when you could get through to us, but that was trickier than it sounded!
Our system was set up to go to voicemail quickly and you couldn’t pick up colleagues calls without getting up and physically answering the phone.
Working with our IT team we were able to change the call settings and groupings and vastly increased the number of donor calls we were able to answer.
6. First impressions count: make sure your front of house and donor care are welcoming
One of the most annoying quotes we’ve heard from a senior manager from another department was that answering calls, sending thank you’s etc was ‘just admin’ and not important. To us this completely misses the point.
The welcome you receive at a reception. The thank you letter when you donate. Getting donor’s names and addresses correct. These are the little big things that matter and set the tone for the way a charity treats its supporters.
I recently had to visit the customer service desk in two branches of the same supermarket. The experience between the two couldn’t have been more different.
At both I had to wait for a manager to come down from the offices to help resolve my query. In the first branch I was asked if I wanted a seat, engaged in polite conversation and offered a drink. Ultimately they were unable to resolve my query, but they apologised profusely and I was treated in a professional, friendly way.
In the second store it was the complete opposite. There was a customer in front of me, who was already looking fed up. I had to wait a couple of minutes before anyone asked if they could help, as the staff were too busy talking to each other.
I was then left standing by the main door for 15 minutes. No chair or drink was offered. The person I needed to speak to finally appeared and I explained the problem. They rolled their eyes, sighed and trundled off to the office. At the same time, the customer in front of me finally lost her temper with the in-difference shown and demanded to see the manager.
I continued to wait (and ended up helping a shopper struggling with their shopping as none of the staff helped) and after nearly half an hour in total the relevant person appeared with the package I needed. It was an awful experience and a total failure in customer service. I’ll definitely think twice before using the same service again.
There’s no point having the greatest fundraising appeal or message if it is let down by poor customer service.
Tips seven to twelve will appear next week.