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Description: Customer Service and the Office | Customer Service and Volunteers | How to Provide Great Customer Service | Customer Service and the Board

Volume 9 Issue 5 September 2015 Customer Service & Non-profits YES Customer service only applies to businesses and for-profit organizations right As a non-profit we re not trying to sell a product or maintain a customer base or are we If you take a good hard look at your association you ll find that you are essentially selling a product (membership) and trying to maintain a customer base (membership retention.) So how do the business concepts developed for excellent customer service apply to us Businesses maintain their customers based on the following directly influenced by the level of customer service they perceive. In a brief article 3 Tips on Nonprofit Customer Service Elaine Fogel outlines concepts that help define what customer service means for us. Your organization s level of The Leadership Letter customer service ties into its brand . Everyone who works or volunteers for the organization should promote that brand. Negative word of mouth can defeat any branding programs and bad customer service can be responsible. tional customer service to your nonprofit s customers you first need to identify who they are. Who are your members Do your customer service protocols need to differ based upon the member tor there are three kinds of customer service lousy satisfactory and exceptional. Ask your self what type of customer service your association is currently providing Source http 2013 09 18 3tips-on-nonprofit-customer-service The product they provide is quality and of value to the customer. The personnel who interact with customers are responsive and courteous assisting customers as needed. Customers feel respected and valued in their interactions with the business. In order to provide excep- SOUTHERN EARLY CHILDHOOD ASSOCIATION Just like the for-profit sec- A non-profit is no different. Those persons who wish to join a professional association (our customers) expect value in their membership and courtesy and respect in their interactions with staff or volunteers. In this issue of The Leadership Letter we ll explore the topic of customer service as it relates to a membership organization. The values that members place on their membership with the association is Inside this issue Customer Service and the Office Customer Service and Volunteers How to Provide Great Customer Service Customer Service and the Board 2 2 3 4 Don t forget customer service isn t confined to just office staff. It s also the responsibility of leadership and volunteers to make the professional connection a valued one. Leadership Commission Members Jeff Leffler MS Anita Dailey GA Marti Nicholson OK Susan Barnes VA Suzi Brodof WV Customer Service and the Office For many of our associations a physical office is simply not in the cards and paid staff consist of one part-time person who manages the business side of the association. With this in mind how do we provide customer service that meets the needs of our members What do our members want We ll share our experience from the SECA office and perhaps it will provide a springboard for you to begin looking at options within your state or local. Members want to know what they receive for their membership dues. What resources and benefits are there Members want you to explain the membership structure. Am I in a dual state a non-dual state What does that mean It s a complicated structure that s hard for people to understand. vide options for members to contact your association. Members want that personal touch when they contact the SECA office. They want to talk with someone not just a recorded message. Members want you to help them problem solve. How can they join How can they receive proof of membership that they need for either their CDA renewal or their state professional development system Obviously SECA has an office with full-time personnel who can respond daily to requests for information or membership. We understand that s not always the case with our affiliates and here are some questions to ask about how your association functions in regard to customer service. Some Ideas to Consider Do you have the option of having a 1-800 phone number that members can call to get information or business completed (If you go this route make sure you have someone who will answer the phone or pick up messages on a frequent schedule. We hear lots of complaints about not being able to reach anyone in the state office by phone.) If you have a post office box is someone regularly picking up your mail and processing any membership applications Nothing is more frustrating to new members than not receiving a timely response. Make sure the SECA office has updated membership and affiliate information so that we can respond on your behalf. We ll be happy to be your advocate Is there a person or entity that can serve as your office This may mean joining contracting with a person or another non-profit to pro- Customer Service and Volunteers Our associations are primarily volunteer driven and we rely on them to implement programs and provide services to members. Volunteers are often overlooked by organizations but they can be one of the most effective customer service tools available. Volunteers can spread the word respond to members and put a personal and professional face on Page 2 the association. But volunteers need the tools to ensure that they represent the association and its brand well. Do you provide any type of orientation for your volunteers Do they understand the mission of the association and the current list of priorities that have been developed by the leadership Is there a system for ensuring that volunteers are doing something worthwhile for the organization Are you ensuring that they are productive and contributing not just marking time Are you recognizing those volunteer efforts in a way that highlights their contributions to the association Utilize your volunteers well and recognize their efforts. Excellent customer service will be a natural. T H E L E A D E R S HI P L E T T E R How to Provide Great Customer Service Customer service...What does it really mean As defined in the marketplace Customer service is figure out they need a membership to renew their CDA. makes all the difference in how they perceive the organization. the service or care that a consumer receives before during and after a purchase. It s one of the factors that come in to play when a consumer is determining buying value the other is the quality of the product or service that is being offered. In the Ten Commandments of Great Customer Service Susan A. Friedmann focuses on ten strategies to ensure that excellent customer service is an integral part of the customer process. Make customers members feel appreciated. After all we wouldn t be here without them. Thank them for their membership and focus on the fact that they are professionals. They don t always get that feedback. Get regular feedback. Don t be afraid to ask your members what they like and don t like. You d be surprised at the excellent suggestions you can receive through surveys or just asking questions. Particularly if you re asking those questions about your meetings or annual conference just don t worry about the comments about too hot too cold too expensive not enough free things etc. You ll always have a few of those but you ll also find many sensible and helpful suggestions along the way. Help customers understand your systems. Let them know how their membership works when they will receive their membership card how they will receive member benefits. Know who s the boss. Without members our associations would cease to exist. The actions taken by our leadership and staff should reflect the knowledge that members are the backbone of the organization and critical to its vitality and strength. Appreciate the power of yes. Do your best to answer yes when asked a question. It may not always be possible but the majority of the time you ll be able to respond in the affirmative. Treat your leaders staff and volunteers well. If those who are responsible for providing customer service in our organizations don t feel valued and nurtured it s highly unlikely that they will represent the organization in a way that promotes customer service. One thing we Southerners are known for is hospitality and friendliness. It s natural for us to ask questions get to know strangers and respond in ways that are open and engaging. Use those natural inclinations to translate into great customer service and you ll gain a loyal and committed member and volunteer. Have a great day Source The Ten Commandments of Great Customer Service http Know how to apologize. When something has fallen through the cracks or has broken down on your end know when to say you re sorry. Most people will respond very positively if you just admit your mistake and agree to resolve the problem. Be a good listener. Don t assume that you know or can predict what a member is thinking or what his her concerns are. Take time to listen carefully and respond appropriately. Identify and anticipate needs. If you re listening you may be able to identify what the member needs and help them reach a satisfactory conclusion. For example the SECA office often gets a caller that wants to join our club. With just a little bit of questioning and some prior experience on our part it s simple to VOLUME 9 ISSUE 5 Give more than expected. It doesn t have to be anything significant just have a good day will be enough. Recognize that our members work in tiring and often stressful situations with very young children who require time and attention. Recognizing them as individuals and connecting with them on a personal level PAGE 3 Other Resources About Money This website offers a variety of articles about customer service. Just enter customer service into the search engine. The Art of Membership (2014) by Sheri Jacobs Publisher ASAE ISBN-13 978-1118633106 SOUTHERN EARLY C H I L D H O OD A S S O C I A T I O N 1123 S. University Suite 255 Little Rock AR 72204 1-800-305-SECA (7322) Fax 501-227-5297 Email info framework and knowledge to create and customize a solid membership strategy no matter what size your organization is or which industry or sector it serves. Just a few of the topics covered include The Art of Membership will give you the Promoting Quality Care and Education for Young Children and Their Families SECA is a Voice for Southern Children This newsletter is written and produced by Glenda Bean Executive Director. Finding Your Value (including a chapter on pricing strategies) Defining Your Members (Are they members or customers ) Selling Your Organization Personalizing the Process Click here to sign up for notices when a new Leadership Letter is available. Customer Service and the Board As a leader in your organization how do your members perceive you Do they think you are Too important to spend time Guide your organization to reflect the will of the membership. Create an environment that values and nourishes each member. Support staff and volunteers and create an operational environment that reflects the priorities of the organization. Are board members expected to interact with members Do board members recognize and welcome new members Do you have a system for utilizing technology to let people know who you are COMMUNICATION Do your board members communicate regularly with their locals chapters Is there a system for providing members with regular information about what the association is doing Do you invite member input and constructive criticism Try a little of that Southern hospitality It will go a long way. with them Unapproachable because of your position Unaware of their concerns or unwilling to listen If that s the case you have some work to do Accepting a position of leadership in your organization means that you have assumed the ultimate position in customer service. As that leader your responsibility is to There are many things you can do to ensure that your board is viewed as approachable and an integral part of the customer service system. VISIBILITY Do your members have regular opportunities to interact with the board at major association events and meetings Identify the concerns and issues that are paramount to your members.