If You Want My Money, Treat Me Like a Customer

by Emily Jasper on February 10, 2010

Where do you get off? If you want my money, you are a business. That means act like it. You are not above customer service. You are not above basic administrative competence.

I don’t know if this happens everywhere, but when I lived in D.C., Greenpeace used to have solicitors parked outside the metro stations. Essentially, they want to know if you care about the planet. If you do get sucked in, they of course want to solicit donations. They ask you to put your contact and credit information on paper, give to an intern/volunteer/new hire, and trust that your identity won’t be stolen. Because they’re a wholesome non-profit and all that.

Now, this isn’t a post against Greenpeace. I know they do great things. What it’s about is when you have someone who has a financial relationship with you, even if by donation, there are still some basics you need to deliver. Like if due to the recession, you need to decrease your monthly contributions, someone needs to pick up the phone or answer emails. Don’t be so unreachable that instead of someone decreasing, they feel like they just want to cancel all together to avoid jumping through hoops. Again, basics.

Most of my contributions go to my sorority’s national foundation. I can make a phone call, talk to a real person, and get some great customer service. I had to change an address, done. Update my credit card info, done. If I want to know where my money is going, they can tell me what leadership programs and what chapters I support. Awesome. I want to keep giving my money to an organization like that, not just because it’s my sorority, but because they GET IT.

I’m treated like a client they don’t want to lose.

I know many businesses lose clients on a regular basis because of administrative inefficiencies. Sending out incorrect invoices, billing twice, copy-pasting the wrong information in emails, spelling your name incorrectly, refusing to patch you through to a supervisor, having a giant automated phone system with no people, and on and on…

What irks me is when an organization feels they are above good customer service. It’s expected of business…why isn’t it expected everywhere else? Even if you’re with a volunteer organization, if you volunteered to be the membership chair, then you HAVE to follow up with potential members in a timely manner. If you can’t, then you shouldn’t have volunteered. Your individual actions can reflect on the organization as a whole.

If you have employees or volunteers who are passionate about what you do, you’re less likely to run into administrative issues. Customer service becomes more about building relationships instead of facing a firing squad. From there, people might be willing to extend their financial relationship with you. And then we can all get back to what we wanted in the first place: doing something for the common good.

Photo from clipart.