Customer service looks different for every nonprofit organization. The type of customer service that you want to provide is determined by the type of work you are doing. There are more than 45,000 veterans’ organizations devoted to veterans and their families, assisting in many areas of veterans’ lives. Patience, encouragement, and continued support may be a main focus of customer service to help wounded veterans heal physically and mentally in order to cope with the challenges that come with long-term injuries from serving our country. In order to improve customer service in a nonprofit environment, there are three steps that need to be taken. First, you must decide what good customer service means to your organization; then, determine ways to measure it; and finally, to implement practices within your nonprofit financial management team to improve your customer service.
Determine What Good Service Means To Your Nonprofit
The first thing that needs to be determined is what your nonprofit financial management team believes should be the absolute minimum level of customer service you will provide. Here is a checklist to help you take this first step.
- At what point do members of your organization interface with the public?
- Is it by phone, in person, social media, or at events?
- Who meets with the public? Is it one person, a team, or everyone?
- What is the interaction like?
- What impression do you want to give of your organization?
- Do you give staff and volunteers any type of training in customer service currently? If so, what is that training?
- Do you have any parameters for how quickly phone calls must be returned or who gets to respond to inquiries on social media? If so, how is this information shared with everyone?
The next step is to think about the outcome your nonprofit financial management team desires for your nonprofit. If your desired outcome doesn’t match your current situation, what changes need to happen to help you achieve this outcome?
How to Measure Your Customer Service
Most organizations apply both qualitative and quantitative measurements to their service, but it is important to know the difference between the two.
Qualitative measures by customer satisfaction, which is easy, in theory. You could send out surveys, save emails from customers that are thanking someone in your company for good service, or measure in terms of donor and patron satisfaction.
Quantitative measures by numbers and data. In order to get the correct data, you will need a starting point, an objective, and a way to measure the distance between the two. Customer service may seem like a hard thing to measure, but some areas to think about measuring would be: the time elapsed between returning calls, the time to deliver service, and other similar metrics.
Not everything can, or should, be measured. It is important for your nonprofit financial management team to decide what is most important to your nonprofit’s customer service level. It is not smart to force-fit anything into quantifiable metrics, especially if it doesn’t make sense for your nonprofit.
4 Steps to Improve Customer Service
Once you have determined your service baseline and how that should be measured, it is time to kick off some best practices for improving your customer service. In a nonprofit setting, it can be more challenging than a for-profit setting. Most nonprofits are dealing with volunteers in addition to paid staff, so it creates another aspect to consider. Follow these four steps to help improve your service:
- Set expectations: Set the bar high for customer service. When new staff or volunteers are added to your team, make your expectations clear to them.
- Establish written policies: Written service policies make your expectations clear, concise, and provide a common standard for all employees/volunteers to follow which can ultimately be measured.
- Reward right actions: When you notice people on your team giving great service, reward them. Give them praise, thank them, create an employee/volunteer of the month service award, and bring attention to these “right” behaviors.
- Model what you’d like to see: Be sure your senior-level staff demonstrates the highest standards of behavior. It’s important that your nonprofit financial management team acts as role models for volunteers and other staff members. People put into practice what they see. When your staff/volunteers see that you don’t just “talk the talk” but “walk the walk,” they will know that good customer service is important to you and your nonprofit.
Whether you are running a nonprofit or a for-profit organization, good customer service is crucial. Your goal as a nonprofit financial management team is to have positive interactions with your customers and the public in order to create positive feelings and lead them to think highly of your organization. When people feel valued, they are more likely to donate to your organization.
RBP Methods is a nonprofit software and consulting firm that helps right-brained people navigate a left-brained world. We offer a wide range of consulting services focused on helping nonprofits manage their accounting and financial needs. Our software choices include Abila, AccuFund, and other nonprofit financial management tools. For more information, contact RBP Methods or call us at 503-648-9051.