The charity dollar is a fragile resource. Most of us will prioritise our basic living needs over charitable donations, and in tough times charitable giving is all too often treated as a discretionary item, which means that revenue for charities can drop sharply when people feel concerned about money.
Knowing this, charities are working hard to get smarter with their digital offerings for potential donors. Recently, I experienced something which I found interesting.
I had a personal reason for wanting to make a one-off donation to a particular organisation, but I wasn’t interested in getting on their mailing list as I have a carefully curated list that I give to regularly and I didn’t want to add to the email noise.
So, when filling out the details to give my modest donation, I was careful to uncheck the boxes that invited me to receive ongoing communications from the charity.
A poor customer experience
What happened next was perplexing from a professional point of view and frustrating on a personal level.
Here we had an organisation that I had no previous relationship with. They had the potential to create a positive impression on me since their system made it easy to give and looked pretty cool. But it was in the follow-up where they crashed and burned badly.
Firstly, I didn’t get a receipt. Maybe they aren’t an approved charity for a tax deduction, but that is scarcely the point. Unless I had specifically stated that I didn’t want a receipt, sending me one is a no-brainer and a safe and easy way to start building a relationship with me.
What I did get was a long and beautifully designed brochure in PDF form. My first thought was “Oh I must have not unchecked that box properly”. At this point, I was irritated with myself for not having done it right, but what happened next changed my opinion entirely.
I looked for the unsubscribe option. I was fully expecting this to be hard to find, as they always are, and this was no exception. Note that I am actively ignoring everything else in the communication at this point. In my irritation, I never looked closely at their beautifully designed content.
When I finally found the unsubscribe link, it took me to a form with a ridiculous number of options for me to configure what I wanted to receive (which was nothing).
Again, this is not especially unusual, albeit arguable a breach of the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act, but it felt a bit like they had taken the standard options out of the box instead of carefully working out and testing all the possible paths that givers might want to take and making sure they all made sense from the donor's point of view.
So, I scrolled around and finally found the “unsubscribe from everything” option and selected it. It then transpires that I cannot even take this option without providing them with my full name and address details.
So, if you’re a charity that received a response from a Mr. Xxx Xxxxx whose email is [email protected] I’m talking about you.
By the time I had gotten through this rigmarole, I was far back on the curve of nurtured relationship. It will be awfully hard for that particular donee organisation to get me back on board. They effectively nurtured me in the wrong direction.
Making sure that you have carefully worked through all of the details of your customer experience is crucial. Not doing this mahi properly can result in the exact opposite effect of what you wanted.
What happened here?
I can think of three possible reasons something like this happens in a company.
First, if you don’t have some sort of strategy, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the first part of a digital offering or interaction when it’s new and exciting and forget about the “small bits”. Unfortunately for this outfit, the small bits are the most important. It’s a very simple task with any email CRM software to add the Unsubscribe link to the bottom. Can I be cliché and say “the devil is in the details”?
The second option is that it was done on purpose. They are intentionally making it difficult to unsubscribe and ignoring donor preferences to receive no marketing email. This is just bad practice and results in people like me running away. Also, a bit well, illegal. Just don't.
Lastly, I wonder if there was any real user testing done. I can’t imagine if they asked a digital expert to try out their nurture sequence that they would have gotten the “OK”. I’m confident no one on our team would have been okay with the workflow and sequence. Are you user testing your customer experience thoroughly?
I doubt they even know they’ve alienated me, and probably hundreds (or more) of others. And that’s why it’s so important to get Customer Experience right.
It can be hard to prioritise it when you are trying to meet deadlines and just want to “press go”, but the long-term negative effects of poor planning aren’t worth it. If you need a little help to add user experience into your digital strategy, that’s OK too.
Our team works on projects ranging from initial analysis and discovery to one-off project assistance, so we will have something to suit where you are in your digital journey. Drop us a line and we can have a no-obligation chat about your needs.
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