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Excellent customer service means better financial performance

Over the last three decades the commercial sector has spent billions of dollars in understanding how to drive customer attitudes toward greater loyalty and commitment.

They have long known the extent to which customer service satisfaction correlates with higher revenue growth. Happy customers buy more, more often and recommend a company to others.

According to Bloomerang.co:

The commercial world enjoys customer retention rates approaching 90 per cent.

The challenge for fundraisers is that today’s donors are on the receiving end of amazing corporate customer service – and as a result they are more sophisticated than they’ve ever been before about:

  • How they should be treated
  • How often they should be solicited, and
  • How they want to be communicated with going forward.

Consider this …

Research from the Institute of Customer Service shows that customers just don’t benchmark against similar organisations – they will compare the service from your charity against that of their favourite and most trusted commercial brands.

So, for example, if the world leader in customer service – Amazon – can deliver items on the same day, the customer’s expectation rises that every organisation should be able to do the same.

Donors are in the driving seat.

That donors are becoming more sophisticated and demanding about their philanthropy – and the service they receive in exchange for their generosity – is a good thing for our sector.

But it demands that we improve the effectiveness of our supporter relationship management.

To do that doesn’t require an investment of decades of time and billions of dollars.

Our opportunity is to take – at a much smaller cost – the best of what corporates have already researched and learnt – and apply it in a not-for profit way:

  • Donor journey mapping to optimise the donor journey from initial contact, through the process of engagement and into a long-term relationship.
  • Mystery shopping to measure the delivered donor experience, and
  • Donor satisfaction surveys to feed back on the perceived experience.

It’s a rising bar for us all – whether you work in the commercial or the not-for-profit sector.

The success of donor/customer service satisfaction depends on leadership, employee engagement, effective measurement, innovation and constant program improvement.

In his annual letter to shareholders, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos urged people to “experiment patiently, accept failures, plant seeds, protect saplings and double down when you see customer delight”.

It’s a formula that won’t work for everyone – but any business or charity could do a lot worse than follow that formula.

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