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Optimizing Value

A few weeks ago, I purchased new glasses.  Before leaving the shop, the staff adjusted my glasses for a proper fit.  They also tested to ensure my vision was actually better than before.  At the end, they reminded me that my vision would be optimal if my glasses were properly positioned on my face.  Then they suggested that I return every 3 months or so and let them adjust the glasses to ensure they continued to rest properly on my face.

There are dozens of shops that will happily sell someone new glasses.  Very few are interested in extending the value of the glasses they sell.  Extending the value of the glasses is an inexpensive way to provide customer service that has durable value.  It sends a message that the vendor cares more about customer value than just ensuring the customer has a good experience while in the shop (customer satisfaction).

Most nonprofits try hard to ensure that every client has a good experience while they are on the premises.  Providing a good experience is the norm rather than a competitive advantage.  There is nothing durable about a good experience.  Therefore, while necessary, a good experience does nothing to increase your nonprofit’s sustainability, your nonprofit’s reputation, or clients’ success.

If a periodic adjustment maintains my comfort and perpetuates the usefulness of my glasses, it adds meaningful, measurable, and durable value to the transaction.  It helps create an engaged customer and it strengthens the reputation of the store.

What is your nonprofit doing to improve client engagement, to increase your nonprofit’s sustainability and reputation through client services, and to add durable value to your services?

One of the challenges nonprofits face is tracking their outcomes.  When a nonprofit is unable to stay in touch with a client, it is impossible to know if the desired outcome was achieved.  The same is true for eyeglass providers.  However, by providing a service every 3 months or so, they are motivating their customers to keep in touch.  If the customer sees value in the service, there is no reason for the shop to chase the customer.  It is probably cheaper to adjust glasses periodically and have a meaningful contact with the customer than to send dozens of mailings which have a high probability of being ignored.  Cheaper for the service provider and better for the client is a win for everyone.

What post-completion services can your nonprofit offer that will encourage your clients to stay in touch?

Periodic contact also builds trust.  It encourages customers to create a relationship with the store.  The staff is able to determine when the customer will need a vision checkup, new glasses, etc.  That turns the staff into problem solvers rather than sales people.

How will your nonprofit use the periodic contact with your clients to build trust, strengthen relationships, provide additional services, and ensure the desired outcome materializes?

Next Step:

Create services that can be offered to your clients after they complete your programing

Train your staff to use the return visit to determine the client’s progress and suggest next steps

Use the durability of your post-completion relationship to determine the success of your programing

For-profits usually measure their success based upon the payment of the bill when the transaction is complete.  However, nonprofits are in the business of changing lives.  That implies that success only occurs when a life is changed, which is usually years after services are rendered.  It also implies that the relationship must be sustained long after the primary services are delivered.

The key to sustaining the relationship is offering post-completion value.  The value must be sufficient to motivate the client to sustain the relationship.  Focusing on creating ongoing value tells your clients and donors that your clients have enduring value and your nonprofit sincerely cares about your clients’ long-term success.

Give your clients more than they expect and they will give you an easier path to sustainability and financial strength.

Take It Further:

Use the durable relationship with your clients and the durable value your post-completion services offer to increase donor engagement

Remind your board that for-profits focus on transactions and nonprofit’s focus on changing lives

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