The final straw – I quit

In my last blog I told you about my phone call to cancel my regular donation to a charity that I had supported for over 10 years. Jo the person I spoke to on the supporter care line was so helpful and friendly that I decided to continue my support after all.

I was told at the end of my call that it would take a couple of months to get back into the ‘system’.

Two months to get me in a ‘system’ is a) ages and b) made me feel totally undervalued.  Anyhow, I decided to wait and see what happened.

Nothing happened.

I called the charity (which remains nameless) to cancel at the end of February. I had recently been travelling and hoped that when I returned in JUNE there would be some correspondence waiting for me, perhaps thanking me for staying on board or giving me an update on how my support had made a difference. (Imagine that?!)

There was nothing.

The week I returned from my travels, I went for dinner with my mum. She mentioned that someone had phoned asking for me, which was really weird because I left home over 15 years ago.

She said it was this charity. It would appear that I was in some sort of system but obviously, not the right one. This only added to my annoyance, I was waiting to be back in ‘the system’ yet the same charity were still calling my parents house over a decade after I had left.

Last month I called to cancel. First, when I got through to the Supporter Care line (lets call her Clare) couldn’t find my record. Then after I provided my bank details she discovered that I was a ‘duplicate’. I’m not sure what’s worse – being in a ‘system’ or being a ‘duplicate’.

I asked to cancel. Clare said she was sorry and enquired why I had made such a decision after 10 years of support. I explained that I was annoyed because they were calling my parents over 10 years since I left home (although I suspect that this was totally unrelated to my last call due to the duplicate situation) and that I hadn’t received any correspondence since my last call in February.

Clare explained that after my last call I had been set up to receive quarterly mailings, but since those quarterly mailings were prepared in advance; I hadn’t made the last ‘batch’. Perfect, now I’m in a BATCH.

Clare told me I had to call my bank in order to cancel my regular payment. At no point did she thank me for supporting for so long or tell me that my support was vital or important for the charity to continue with their work. She did nothing to inspire me to stay. I wanted to be convinced to stay.

When I called my bank, the representative questioned my decision to cancel. He said, ‘are you sure you want to cancel – you have made 152 payments – that’s a long time and  adds up to quite a lot?’ I felt that my bank were more upset about my decision than the charity.

If I’m sharing my experience today; it is so you can ensure your organisation is not making the same mistakes. Could I be telling a story about the charity that you work for that:

·        Uses internal jargon language when talking to supporters that makes them feel undervalued like batch, system and duplicate. Small changes in language can make a difference to how supporters feel.

·        Has duplicate records so supporters get inconsistent asks. Is your data as clean as it can possibly be, do you check it regularly?

·        Has slow systems that do not respond to supporters’ needs, the ‘system’ did not work for me; over four months with no correspondence in this situation is totally unacceptable.

·        Doesn’t enable staff to operate outside of a ‘system’. It felt like Clare in the supporter care team was reading from a script, if she had underlined wha

t I had given over the years, or the number of payments I had made (as my bank did), perhaps she could have persuaded me to stay.

I’m disappointed that this charity has failed to keep my support. But more upset that with this level of customer care, other supporters may leave too, which over time will impact on the services they are able to deliver and the people that they are able to help.

I wonder if it takes months to get out of the system too. I expect I will get my first quarterly mailing this autumn… 3 months from now.


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