Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Are you assuming your supporters can't read?!

Of late I feel I have walked in to a phase of poor customer care (as you may recall from a previous post), and sadly it hasn't stopped! What is worse, it has either been (1) a disregard for me as a customer or (2) under the guise of 'rewarding' my patronage but not. Both can be equally as bad.

Thankfully, these examples are not from the not-for-profit sector, but I felt compelled to type away here mainly because it would be the easiest thing in the world for us to fall into such a mindset - you may even be doing it already without realising it.

Today, I will just talk about issue 1: The disregard for existing customers. With the constant obsession with recruiting new customers / supporters over caring about the ones you already have, I have been stunned by my ISA provider offering a fantastic rate on a new ISA only to learn that it is not available to me, just NEW customers only! Did they think I wouldn't notice? I did, obviously.

For me, the significant thing about this example is that as many charities are continuing to primarily focus on the recruitment of new supporters, I am not sure there is enough awareness and thought given to how these new recruitment campaigns or offers are being perceived - not just by the potential supporters but by existing supporters too?

So, if you think any of your recruitment offerings could provoke any of the following responses from your existing base - then it might be worth thinking about doing something about it:

  1. That's good, but I don't receive that
  2. I am not sure I like the direction the organisation seems to be going
  3. That looks like a great project / work, but it's the first time I have heard about it. Why?
  4. This looks like a complete waste of money. Is this how they use my donations?
  5. I didn't think they did that.. I'd much prefer to support that...
My point is essentially any of the above thoughts could undermine a supporter's commitment to an organisation ... so just bear that in mind when new communications are being developed and maybe ask yourself some of these questions:

  1. With in this is there anything new that we could use to proactively share with our supporters?
  2. How could it be adapted to 'appeal' to our base? (not necessarily asking more of them)
  3. Which of our supporters are interested in that area of work? How could we get them involved?
  4. Are we offering an inducement in our recruitment that would be of interest to our existing supporters or will it potentially make them think we are not valuing them?
These questions are not exhaustive, but you get the idea.

Obviously where campaigns have been developed in an integrated way from the outset then the role of your existing supporters and how you will communicate to them will be a clear part of the plan. But I think the same exercise and thought process needs to be in place no matter how big or small the campaign. Whether it be a full on regional multi channel campaign or just a single insert.

Assuming that your supporters can not read and therefore would not notice what you are saying, could be quite a risky approach. Or put it an other way, by factoring in your supporters in everything you do, will make you see all the opportunities to enhance those relationships and potentially doubly benefit your recruitment activities too. That seems like a good deal to me.

Thank you for stopping by!