Let me tell you a story related to a social enterprise project that I am setting up…
- We were looking for training rooms for our project and I contacted three potential providers, all charities/social enterprises, that were in the right location and provided the sort of rooms that we were looking for;
- In my initial email and phone contact, I made it clear that my project had received funding, had money to spend and we weren’t just shopping around looking for quotes but we were ready to make a booking;
- Following on from my initial contact, I had to chase two of the providers a number of times, via email and phone, just to arrange a meeting to view the rooms or even to arrange a time to have a chat on the phone to discuss our requirements.;
- Of those two, one of them never got back to me with a final quote after I had viewed their rooms. And, the other, never invited me round to view the rooms but said that the first thing that I would need to do was to submit an application to hire a room and then this would be sent to their Board for review and approval (Made me wonder how much responsibility they give their staff for running their organisation!).
- Thankfully, the organisation that did get back to me made the process easy, proved to be helpful, friendly and flexible and, as a result, we have made a block booking with them for a set of rooms for a 6-week period.
Why’s this important?
Well, overall, I think we can agree that things have been tough for a few years now and, related to that, many customers are becoming more discerning with their money and where they spend it. Customers also tend to be more impatient, value quick decisions, as well as good service. Therefore, if you make it hard for them, then they’re very likely to look elsewhere for what they want.
I don’t think that any sector of the economy escapes this reality and it applies, just as much, to the charity and social enterprise sectors as it does to the private sector.
This reality is complicated by the fact that the funding environment for charities and social enterprises has become much, much tougher in recent years. As a result, many social enterprises and charities are looking to provide products and services to the market in order to generate alternative and sustainable means of funding.
But, to do so, many need to realise that they are not just competing with each but also with the whole market.
So, if you run a social enterprise or a charity, ask yourself this:
- Are you making it easy for your customers to do business with you?
- Who are your products and services competing with?
- What’s your customer service and customer experience like?
- How could you be better?
This post was originally published on Customer Experience Magazine here.