Monday, August 9, 2010

Embedded Conversations

Today author Danie Pink posted a link on Twitter to a Harvard Business Review Study: Why Your Customers Don't Want to Talk to You.

Reading beyond the headline, we find that it's the live interaction that customers are shying away from. Customers still want their needs met. How? Self-service. Because they can better serve themselves in some cases, such as at airport kiosks.

The lesson I take away from the Harvard Business Review is that we still need to be listening to donors, albeit the channel may not always be voice-to-voice. Donors tell us about their needs and interests in many other ways. If donors, for example, sign up for payroll deduction, they are telling us about their preferences. Donors speak too if they never respond to our direct mail or event invitations. "Pay attention," they call out when making their first gift, reaching a gift threshold, or otherwise signal their interest in a charity.

Data in our databases are among the earliest indicators of donor interests. Don't worry. Our business is still about relationship building. That's something that the best fundraisers do well. Computers not so much.

But at the same time, we have to listen to the donor's voice wherever it comes from, even if embedded in data patterns.

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