4 trends to keep third sector donors happy
By: Chris Robinson, CEO Yonder Digital Group
The third sector contributed approximately £15.3 billion to the UK economy in 2015 and 2016 and employs roughly 880,600 paid workers
. It consists of over 167,000 charities in England and Wales with a total combined income of £73.1 billion annually. Yet, recently the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) has fined a series of charities for poor practice in fundraising, and international charities have been prosecuted over unethical working practices and behaviour
. Therefore it comes as no surprise that 2017 saw a staggering over 50,000 complaints about fundraising practices, up from just under 4,000 in 2013
Yet in spite of all of this, charities – which rely on goodwill and accessibility both for service delivery and for fundraising – scored surprisingly low in a recent survey from Yonder Digital Group. The research canvassed 2,000 UK consumers to find out whether they thought the third sector was easy to contact and found the answer was staggeringly often ‘no’. Charities need to be particularly aware of these people because if donors or clients are unable to easily find contact details, answers to their queries and resolution to their problems they will quickly jump ship and find another charity to contribute to, or even worse, stop contributing in general due to being disenchanted with the sector. Typically customers tend to stay loyal to a brand until that brand gives them a reason to defect. If a company is staying on top of inbound customer queries then typically 92% of consumers will stay loyal and increase their business with the company
. But overwhelmingly (81%), bad communication is the cause of clients taking their business elsewhere.
Research has shown that 70% of businesses that deliver exceptional customer experience use customer feedback to further improve it and there is no reason why the third sector cannot adopt this strategy too
. With a wide range of technology available it means that charities have no excuse for not listening to their donors and clients. Technology enables the on-going analysis of donor patterns and behaviour. With this information, charities can pinpoint how their donors and clients react to certain changes and technology and adapt accordingly.
No one likes to waste their time looking for a contact number or email address. If your donors or clients need help or have a question they’ll want to find a way to get in touch with you as quickly as possible - so make it easy for them and make your contact information easily accessible. In fact, adopting a multichannel approach by offering a range of options for your donors and clients to get in touch will allow them to choose the best option for them, whether it is an email, a phone call or posing a question on a live chat platform.
You don’t want your donors or clients to feel forgotten by being on hold for too long: improving your live services by reducing waiting times can make a difference to their mood. If there’s an urgent query that needs to be answered, it’s important for the donor to be able to talk to a human agent fairly quickly; a long wait can be highly damaging for the charity in the long-term.
So how should charities cultivate exceptional customer experience?
Full integration of customer data systems
Layering call handling systems on top of CRM, ERP, field management or other systems – rarely provides a good integrated contact management experience and can require a hefty upfront investment in order to tie into legacy systems. It is up to the IT Directors about whether this can be achieved in-house or whether it should be moved to a cloud platform or even outsource to third parties.
Best-practice-by-design, transparency and auditability
Government standards and best practice processes need to be built into the system workflow in order to be implemented effectively and efficiently – and that means however many channels a single enquiry ranges across. When effectively implemented, dashboards, spot-checks and audit trails are generated automatically, whether for management information or regulatory reporting, providing transparency at low cost.
Automate where relevant
The capabilities of automated query handling such as AI-driven chatbots, is now quite breath-taking. There is no question of total automation – some queries will always require expert human handling, backed up by top quality information. However, failing to deploy automated query handling for generic enquiries is a major opportunity cost.
Seamless enquiry handling
There is a lot of talk of ‘omnichannel’; where all channels seamlessly merge together to form one experience, however there is less talk about the success of implementation. Often enough, in-house resources are partnered with a third party outsource provider which means there needs to be a high level of trust between the involved parties in order to have better channel integration and improved enquirer experience.
It seems that the third sector’s reputation is somewhat in danger of reputation damage; this is particularly worrying for a sector which thrives on reputation and the goodwill which comes with it, hence why it is critical for charities to look at their relationships with donors and clients and assess their first point of contact in order to make themselves easy to get in touch with and approachable.
 ‘It’s personal – and that’s official’, Yonder Digital Group (February 2017)
 ‘50 Important Customer Experience Stats for Business Leaders’, The Huffington Post (December, 2017)