Living in an extremely fast paced developing world, customer requirements are getting more and more demanding, with expectations increasing and competition rising. This means that customer choices are continuously expanding as industries develop. Like businesses, charities also need to continue to strive for high standards of customer service in order to build strong relationships with their audiences, beneficiaries and donor networks.
Industries that depend on everyday interactions with clients or customers require a good level of customer service in order for their business to become more successful. So what is classed as quality customer service?
Customer service is the service provided to customers before, during and after the purchase of goods and services. It is vital that service providers understand the impact of the little interactions and gestures with their customers – it is quite simple to assist a customer but you have to keep in mind that you want people to return, and this is also true of the donor relationship; in order to encourage repeat donations, fundraisers must be as friendly as possible and establish a good relationship with donors. The cliché ‘people give to people’ is spot on and in recent weeks as we hear more of the poor practices in relation to telephone fundraising managed by rouge agencies – it’s time to rethink our strategy.
Analysing our own experiences as customers and donors can provide a useful insight into what good customer service looks like. For example, I was recently in my local Tesco and I had a problem with finding a product that I wanted to purchase. I asked one of the employees in the shop if they could help me. The man immediately dropped what he was doing, greeted me in a friendly manner, asked me what I was looking for and soon after asked me to follow him. After finding my product the man thanked me; I found this surprising because he was helping me! This man was friendly, confident and straightforward, which helped to make the process of assistance much quicker. I could tell that he was focussed on helping me, and as such I would happily return to this store.
The main aims for good customer service are to ensure customer satisfaction and retention. As the example above illustrates, ensuring that your customer is satisfied means providing personal attention to the needs of individual customers, aspiring to be the answer to your customer’s requirements and last but not least, to assist them in the friendliest manner. There are also benefits of winning over your loyal customers such as perhaps they’ll return with a friend or maybe recommend you to others; this will also allow your company to grow through word of mouth. The same can be said for the interactions with donors and attendees of arts events – if they enjoy their experience of donating or attending a show, they are more likely to increase your audience or potential donor network.
For charities as well as businesses, it is important to stand out from the crowd. If your charity has an outstanding reputation, your recruitment will improve and your charity’s performance will be optimised. Increased overall performance leads to better engagement with donors, which is reflected in increased donor satisfaction.
How important have you found customer service for your career and what advice would you share for those just starting out? We’d love to know, along with your tips for improving the delivery of customer service in the charity sector.