Knowing the Client

Consumers have become more demanding.  The definition of good service is different today than it was few years ago.  The challenge for a small nonprofit is to exceed current service expectations.

Large organizations have access to large volumes of data.  A small nonprofit has limited data.  One alternative for a small nonprofit is to give every client what the average client wants or needs.  Large organizations can afford to buy data that provides them with insights about what each individual’s wants before the individual becomes a client, donor, or supporter.

Nonprofits exist to solve important social problems that affects a limited number of people.  In addition, each client is unique.  The uniqueness may be minor but can be significant enough to diminish a client’s success if all clients are treated the same.

One solution is to change the client intake process.  Besides collecting the usual demographic information, the intake process needs to catalogue the meaningful ways each client is unique.  Some of the uniqueness is related to a client’s attitudes, life experiences, education, health history, etc.  Collecting the information is time consuming and can seem intrusive.  In addition, many clients have an urgent need for services.  Therefore, the data collection must be carefully designed to gather just want is needed in the shortest time possible without making the client feel uncomfortable.

With better data, the client receives customized services and experiences better outcomes.  The customized services also imply the client will receive better advice and guidance.  Your nonprofit has the opportunity to evolve from the service provider of choice into being a trusted advisor.

Being a trusted advisor provides your nonprofit with a competitive advantage.  It will be difficult for your competitors to match your advice since no one will know and understand your clients as well as you do.

Next Step:

Develop a deep understanding of each client’s needs, wants, and preferences

Use what you know about each client to create a client experience that others will find difficult to duplicate

Use the stickiness of your relationship with each client as a success measure for your understanding of your clients and your role as trusted advisor

When clients have a source for good advice that fits their lives, needs, wants, and preferences, they are reluctant to lose touch with that source.  Attempting to develop the same type of relationship again takes time and has the risk of never quite reaching the same level.  Therefore, clients often welcome an opportunity to sustain the initial relationship after the services have ended.

Having a sustainable relationship with your clients provides you with the opportunity to accurately track their post-services success.  As a result, you will have the statistics you need to demonstrate that your nonprofit is able to fulfill the promises of your mission statement.  It also provides you with an opportunity to cultivate the client’s interest in becoming a donor, volunteer, referral source, or advocate.  All of that plus the other advantages mentioned above will raise your nonprofit’s sustainability, the perception of the relevance of your mission, and the support from your community.

Your success and your clients’ success will be enhanced by taking the time to truly know your client.

Take It Further:

Take the time to truly know your donors and become their trusted charity advisor and generosity coach

Take the time to truly know your volunteers


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