Can Folks Get A Hold of You?

Do you really want my money? Then why do you make it so difficult for me to give to you?

ac05c__imageWe are so clever and efficient.

Technology these days is so amazing – it can really save you a lot of work, right?

But let me ask you this. By saving yourself some time, do you create more work for your donors? When you implemented, did you have your end-user in mind?

Have you ever tried to donate to your own organization?

If you didn’t know all the passwords for your automated phone system for example, what would it be like to reach an actual person?

Would it feel something like this?

Hello, you’ve reached ABC non-profit.

We are the best, in fact right now we’re having a campaign to {fill in the blank} and we have already achieved great success, thanks to you.

But there’s still lots of work to be done, so if you haven’t given a gift yet, press 1.

If you have a question about your tax receipt, press 2

If you would like to volunteer, press 3

[presses 0 in hopes of an operator]

I’m sorry, that’s not a valid entry.

If you haven’t given a gift yet, press 1.

If you have a question about your tax receipt, press 2

If you would like to volunteer, press 3

If you blah, blah, blah, blah, press 4

If you know the extension of the person you are trying to reach, enter it now, or press 5 for the staff directory.

[presses 5]

Please say the first and last name of the person you are trying to reach.

[says first and last name]

I’m sorry, I did not understand, please say the first and last name of the person you are trying to reach.

[says first and last name]

I’m sorry, I did not understand, please key in the first 3 letters of the person’s last name and hit the pound key.

[keys in first 3 letters and # but apparently not fast enough]

I’m sorry you are experiencing difficulty.

Hanging up now.

Your phone system isn’t the only culprit. Your website can also be a deterrent to someone who just wants to help. Before you can fix these issues, you need to be aware of what they are. The best way to do this is to navigate your way through your own systems.

Call your office. Can you get where you want to get? How long do you have to listen to menu items? My advice? Don’t use an automated phone system during business hours. But if you do, make sure ‘press 0 to speak to an operator’ is right up front!

Go to your website and make a donation. Can you do that from the landing page? If not, how many times do you have to click-through to another page before you can make a donation? Can you find the contact information of the development manager on the page? Does it say development@ABC.com or an actual name? Does it list their direct line/extension?

Do your pamphlets and brochures have contact information for key staff? Do you offer options for giving? Do you invite people to ask questions or share their ideas?

You may have the latest technology and believe you are being efficient, but if you’ve only made it easier for you, perhaps you have more time for other things NOT because you’re working smarter, maybe people have just given up on trying to help you.

In what ways can you make it easy for people to support you today?

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.

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4 comments

  1. Wyrd Smythe

    Nail, on the head! A key piece of advice I give programmers is: Use the software that you’re developing, and try to use it a lot! Approaching your own work as a user shows you where the pain points are and shows you how to make it easier to use. There is sometimes a big disconnect between a designer’s idea of what makes a cool app (or website) and what actually makes a usable and user-friendly app (or website). Often a sense of “high style” (over substance) creates something that looks great, but is impossible to use!

  2. Tracy Lee Karner

    I can’t tell you the number of organizations I’ve talked to in which no one on the inside has ever gone to the website or tried to use the phone system.

    On the other hand, there are a couple of businesses/organization, that make it a point to always, always, always have a real person answer the phone during regular business hours. Guess who I prefer to call…

    • The Other Bottom Line

      It’s crazy-making, isn’t it Tracy? The community-engaging and relationship-building part of me just cringes when I come across a user-unfriendly system. Sounds like we’re on the same page about who we call a second time around.
      Diana

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