Yes, the title of this article is pretty presumptuous. But try asking yourself these three questions:

  • Do you have staff that is dedicated to only supporting the end-user of your website and its tools?
  • Does your program budget include money for case management infrastructure to ensure quality and timely customer service?
  • Do you know what percentage of questions about your site directly relate to people trying to register or make a donation (two key activities that directly impact revenue)?

Did you answer yes to all three? If not, then I’d wager that the title of this article is accurate and you should keep reading.

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What You Should Have:

Every nonprofit organization with an online fundraising peer-to-peer program should be investing in two areas to provide better customer service and support:

  1. Robust online self-service tools
  2. On demand email and phone support (and probably chat too)

Why You Should Have It:
Nonprofit sites aren’t like traditional companies (this is not news to you). In a traditional transaction, customer service is about making it easy for a person to buy an item, and then ensuring they are happy with said item. Zappos might come to mind – it’s easy to buy and return shoes, so everyone says; they have great customer service.

But for your nonprofit’s website, people show up at your ‘digital door’ for many reasons. In fact, some part of your mission is likely to simply keep people on your site so that users can become educated about your cause and have greater awareness of the needs your organization addresses. That means you have a responsibility to your users, even if they never complete a transaction.

The money also matters though. And here nonprofits, particularly P2P programs, are even more different. The purpose of your site is not only to make donating easy, but to empower people who use your online fundraising tools such as updating their personal pages and sending emails. These actions in turn raise your organization more money.

If a customer can’t use these tools easily and effectively, they won’t. And that costs your organization money.

Self – Service is Customer Service
According to one study, 43% of users feel they can solve their own service issues if companies put better self-service tools in place.* That number goes up to 62% for the 18-24 year old crowd.* Your current FAQ page probably isn’t cutting it. Try these instead:

  • A searchable knowledgebase
  • Video tutorials of functionality
  • An email series that includes “how to” messaging following registration and other key activities

Think back to when the website was built and consider how much time and budget was allocated to self-service resources on the site. Is it time to revisit these?

Customer Questions are Difficult
If you have a great website, then that means that people only need to contact you when something is really complicated. 56% of online consumers describe their support calls as complicated (according to the Customer Service Handbook, 2014). This is because most simple activities are now automated on websites, including yours.

If people that reach out for customer support are asking the most difficult questions, that means you need a top notch team to support them. These representatives of your organization should be both experts on your site and its tools AND they have the time they need to truly assist your customers.

For nonprofit employees who are already wearing more than one hat in their role, adding customer support is not the best way to provide your customers the help they need. It probably also stresses your staff out more than necessary. Remember, providing customers the help they need raises you more money.

Social Media is Not a Support Channel
You may have read articles about companies using social media to go above and beyond to provide great support. Those companies don’t get it. Their customer support channels, whether those are email, chat or phone, must be so bad that customers think asking for help in 140 characters on Twitter is going to get them a quicker response!

You need trained staff who are fully engaged and ready to take care of your customers in real time. That way when your participants go to social media, they say “Please support my walk page!” not “Where can I find the walk route?”

Competitive Advantage
Nonprofits aren’t supposed to think about other nonprofits as competition. But no matter how you describe it, the fact remains that your supporters can walk, run, ride or do-it-themselves to fundraise for many great causes. Your mission is not enough to keep your participants coming back. Your mission plus making it easy for participants to register and fundraise will ensure that your program continues to grow.

You already know this and that is why you invest lots of time and energy in designing your site, crafting great emails and auto-responders and putting all the event information on your site. But you can’t predict every question or need, or account for people who simply need a personal touch.

Having live people available via phone, email and/or chat to help is a necessary part of your event site, not a “nice-to-have” element.

Check out this article for more information on event participant support.