There are tons of books on how to provide outstanding customer support. They recommend strategic language, exercising conversation control, adjusting your tone. All of those things are important, but there is one key ingredient to excellent support that, if missing, could make your entire mission hollow: empathy.
How does your organization support its constituents?
Behind every great nonprofit mission is empathy – it’s the reason nonprofits exist and why people want to support their causes! It follows that whatever support you offer your constituents should be built on that same foundation of compassion.
The people helping your constituents should be as involved with your mission as those at your organization’s highest levels. From interviews and hiring, to weekly meetings, your support should be brought on because they represent your mission, and must be included with the rest of your team. This will help you not just hire people to fill a seat to complete a task, but to truly create a culture of empathy that revolves around your mission.
But how do you approach the daily grind compassionately?
Stating a mission is one thing, living and exemplifying that mission is more difficult and conveying that through daily, service-oriented interactions is an art. If someone is contacting your organization, assume they are affected by your mission. Give them the benefit of the doubt, every time and approach them with the same sensitivity you’d expect yourself.
It’s easy to get burned out working in support. I’ve worked support in a few different sectors, and can say without a doubt that supporting nonprofits is the most energizing support work I’ve ever done. Make sure your support knows how their daily work is connected to the overall mission – this could help tie their daily work (resetting passwords, adjusting donations), which isn’t stereo-typically seen as glamorous, to your greater cause and put meaning behind every password reset.