Social enterprises and charities are not exempt from the need to improve their customer service or customer experience


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.

6 comments On Social enterprises and charities are not exempt from the need to improve their customer service or customer experience

  • I think this points to a wider trend Adrian. Consumers know what can be achieved by the best companies when it comes to the customer experience – and have come to expect the same from every organisation, whatever sector they are in. In the customer’s mind, why should dealing with a utility be more complex or take longer than sending a query to a retailer, for example? So companies need to learn from the best, whatever sector they are in, rather than just focusing on their peers. More in the Eptica blog at

    • Hi Pauline,
      Thanks for your comment. I believe that you are right that it is part of a larger trend with many organisations, particularly in the charity and social enterprise sectors slow to realise that things are changing and make the requisite changes.


  • Adrian,

    Definitely good questions for any organization to ask. It’s unbelievable how blatantly obvious some organizations make it that they just don’t want your business. Maybe they think they do, but truly they don’t.

    Annette 🙂

    • Annette,
      Yes, indeed. I always find it amazing how hard some organisations make it for me, or anyone else, to actually give them money. It’s fascinating how, what would seem like the simplest of things, can be the biggest barrier to success.


  • I have experienced the same many times Adrian, it just makes you wonder if they want your money.

    BTW, I have a nice sitting room, my rates are reasonable and I take all major credit cards


    • James,
      Like I mentioned to Annette above….I find it fascinating and frustrating how, what would seem like the simplest of things, can often be the biggest barrier to an organisation’s success.

      Btw thank you for the offer I’ll keep your sitting room in mind for future projects 😉


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