Use Problems to Increase Client Engagement

How your clients perceive their experience with your nonprofit shapes your nonprofit’s reputation and the relevance and effectiveness of your mission.  The way your nonprofit handles issues and the frequency with which issues arise play an important role in clients’ perception of their experiences.

Clients fall neatly into three groups:

Indifferent and disappointed clients are Disengaged

Clients who feel Comfortable in their relationship with your nonprofit are mildly engaged

Excited clients love your nonprofit and are highly engaged

It is important to know which group a client falls in before beginning to resolve an issue.  The client’s level of engagement will tell you how hard or easy it will be to satisfy the client’s expectations and provide a great solution.

If your nonprofit is like most, more than half of your clients fall in the first two groups.  If a problem is resolved to their satisfaction, it will increase their engagement.  When a problem is handled well, it is a big win for your nonprofit (client engagement, sustainability, reputation, and positive comments on social media).

Those who love your nonprofit have high expectations.  The expectations may even be unrealistically high.  Resolving an issue will require a solution that meets high expectations.  A great solution that falls short of expectations can be perceived as a poor solution.  Therefore, there must be a clear understanding of the client’s expectations before problem resolution begins.

Highly engaged clients typically have the highest success rates, provide the most positive social media comments, and provide the anecdotes and statistics that win the hearts of donors, other supporters, and your community.  Increasing the number of highly engaged clients is important to your nonprofit’s growing sustainability.  Since client engagement is important, the change in client engagement should be a success measure for every issue.

The cost of a problem is measured by the time, resources, and money required to address it.  A solution’s value is measured by its durability, the change in client engagement, the change in your nonprofit’s reputation, the change in operating efficiency, the change in client outcomes (mission effectiveness), and the change in your nonprofit’s sustainability.  The cost of solving a problem is trivial compared to the value of having a great solution.

Next Step:

Determine each client’s level of engagement before attempting to resolve the problem

Determine how the client will evaluate the success of the problem-resolution process

Provide the client with a solution that increases the client’s engagement

Use client engagement and social media comments to evaluate the success of the resolution

Providing a client-centric solution demonstrates your commitment to being client driven.  A client-centric solution maximizes the value of your solution and the rest of your services to that client.  It also provides you with a competitive advantage over other service providers.  While it is an advantage any competitor can replicate, it is an advantage that is very hard for an outside observer to detect.  It is a competitive advantage that is hidden in plain sight.

Once you have a client-centric solution, you have a model you can use to generalize the solution to fit the needs of all of your clients.  This approach makes your solution scalable and further enhances your return on investment.

Every client problem is a gateway to great client engagement.

Take It Further:

Use the same process to increase donor engagement when donors experience problems

Remind your board that the long-term impact or benefit from a client or donor problem is more important than the immediate cost

Set a goal: Every problem happens only once


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