It used to be that nonprofits would share the value they bring with donors by way of a thank you message. You know, something like: “Thanks so much for your donation. Your generosity made it possible for us to…”. But in today’s age of social media and e-commerce, we’ve all come to expect value to be communicated in new ways. We want every online experience to be personalized based on our needs, preferences, location, past activities, etc.
It’s something that ecommerce sites like Amazon, Zappos, and eBay do very well - and it works, bringing in repeat customers. Why? Because they present information to you quickly, in a pleasing format, and with as much specificity in recommendations as they can provide given what they know about you (“based on your interest in X, we thought you might like Z”). This type of experience adds to a little extra value for you.
So, how can you apply this new online customer service concept for nonprofits? Below are four actionable steps you can take - quickly - to deliver value in new ways and improve supporter retention and engagement.
1. Apply a Customer Service Strategy to Your Donation Page
Donation pages are surprisingly easy to get right, but just as easy to get wrong. Pages are often cluttered, the donation process takes too long, the overall donation page message doesn’t gel with the campaign goals, and so on.
The good news is that making your donation page customer-centric is an easy fix. Start by thinking about the online experience that a supporter has with your organization from their point of view. This is a fundamental part of improving your customer service. Ask yourself two questions:
a) Does my donation page match my “ask”?
Each campaign you run should have a specific, customized donation page. If you’re running a #GivingTuesday email campaign, your page should mention it. Or perhaps you’re switching out your animal rights campaign this month to focus on puppy mills instead of saving polar bears. Your donation page should mention your focus and should include images (hard hitting as they may be) that reflect your cause.
Instead of a generic landing page or donation page, these “on-message” images and mentions will give your donors “signs” that they’re in the right place and doing what you intend for them to do. Salsa makes it super simple to create and edit new donation pages.
b) Is the donation form and process as simple as possible?
Make it easy for people to donate, add their name to a petition, or sign up. Look for ways to get your fans through this process as quickly as possible. Make sure your page is arranged neatly, keep your form succinct, and make the donation experience user-friendly. For more inspiration, read these tips for sprucing up your donation page.
2. Go Beyond a Thank You Email
Thank you emails are an inevitable part of most online transactions, donations, or petitions. Everyone sends them. But don’t stop with quality customer service there. Continue engaging and following up for weeks or even months to ensure that your followers are getting value.
Remember, though, you don’t want to be a pain in their inbox - that’s not great customer service.
Generic newsletters about what your nonprofit is up to aren’t going to cut the mustard here. Instead, think about your donor or supporter needs. For example, if they signed a petition to save the bees, start sending them more information about the topic or related topics (GMOs, agricultural pesticides, the human impact, advice for buying organic or environmentally conscious products for less, etc.).
All of these things can be part of a standard welcome series for new or returning followers, without a lot of work. If you’re a Salsa user, you can easily build a welcome series (we call them “trigger emails” or “auto-responders”). You can also use features like scoring and groups to identify and segment your fans based on their activity history, making it easy to connect with them based on their interests/preferences. Now that’s good customer service, without a big investment.
3. Use Content Marketing as a Form of Customer Service
New followers often come to your nonprofit as a result of content marketing (your emails, blogs, videos, etc.). But good content has a lifetime of usefulness and can help you further engage and nurture your “customers” online. Think of content marketing as a thank you to your "customers" for taking action or making a donation (at no charge to them).
Instead of sending them a gift for making a donation, like a fridge magnet or vehicle decal, reward them instead with great content that is unique to your organization. In this way, your supporters form a relationship with you based on customer service that only you can provide.
This content is a form of customer service - providing value for your fans beyond the action they take. It also attracts new donors and supporters by word of mouth, social sharing, and SEO. All this happens because of the quality of the content.
Nonprofits, whatever their size, can provide the same kind of unique information, without a lot of investment. Check out our short video class on content marketing for tips.
4. Integrate Social into your Customer Service
Social media is a great tool for everything from opening dialog with customers to conducting market research. Thanks to the advent of social listening tools, we can now get actionable information in real-time. Who are your most active advocates? What’s their reach and influence? The information is at your fingertips.
But just how can you use this intel? Well, it all comes back to customer service - focus your communications on what matters most to your supporters, use the social platform they prefer, send messages to specific groups based on their interests (not your agenda), answer supporter questions and concerns in real-time, address bad information that is being spread...the possibilities are almost endless.
Read more about social listening and other Salsa features that make it easier than ever to get to know more about your supporters by combining social insights with supporter history and email data.