The other night, my husband called my cell phone. “Are you home?” he asked, puzzled. “Yes”, I answered, just as confused. Apparently, he’d been trying our home line and getting no answer. I checked, and yes, our line was dead.
I tried to call AT&T, our service provider. Their website is full of sales pitches. Contact information, however, is harder to find. And once you find it, you need to log in just to ask about outages in your area. (I don’t know about you, but my phone company log-in is not the kind of information I keep handy.)
I finally tried 611 – using my cell, of course. I eventually got a real person, but she could only help with wireless problems. She sent me back to automation hell – where I was asked to agree to charges before I could even ask about the problem. I hung up.
I was fuming. Almost every interaction I’ve had with this company has frustrated and infuriated me. But they’re far from the only offender!
And that’s our killer advantage: great customer service.
Because we’re in the customer service business. Except we can not only say we care, we must care.
We must treat our donors like people. We can answer the phones immediately. We can return calls right away. We can respond to email. We can thank people well and promptly.
We can treat donors like they matter. Because of course, we know they do.
Here’s the thing: People remember bad experiences. (And we share them. When I couldn’t find any information, I went to Twitter. I was happy to spread the word about my lousy experience.)
It’s called negativity bias: the bad stuff sticks. Stronger and longer than the good.
But good experiences can be memorable too, even if those memories aren’t as powerful as the bad ones.
We need make every contact pleasant and memorable for our donors. And let’s be honest – the big guys are making it easy for us. It really doesn’t take that much.
We also have another advantage: altruism.
(See what Roger Dooley says here). People feel great when they do something nice – like make a donation, or volunteer. We can offer those experiences all the time!
But to do that, we need to tell our stories well. We need to be compelling. And we need to be focused on our donors. (See the first advantage – this is what it’s all about).
These days, when every business is trying to automate contact with its customers, when every interaction depends on a path of phone prompts or pages of web forms, where talking to an real human being is a luxury…
Where too much of life is transactional and a hassle…
These days, we can stand out.
Let’s do that.
(Photo courtesy photos-public-domain.com)