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Posts Tagged ‘Experience’

Constituent Experience 101: There is a reality called silos. How should we deal with it in the best interest of our constituents?

June 2, 2013 1 comment

We all see it all the time. It is time to put together the annual budget. Or, it is time to update our plans. Each department puts its own plan together and then defends it before the group. At a certain level that makes sense. The question any department leader needs to ask is will this approach serve our constituents best? Is it at odds with the overall constituent experience we are trying to build? To get an enterprise wide constituent investment plan, we may need to do a few things differently. If you have a Chief Constituent Officer, it is their role to make it happen.

The premise here is that constituents are being lost in the hand offs between departments. The constituent walks away thinking do they truly understand my needs? Are they there when I need them? Are they really my partner? If I am a donor and an advocate, how come it doesn’t feel like you know that and treat me differently?

The first thing the Chief Constituent Officer needs to do is make sure they are aligned with the CFO, CIO, CDO and CMO. Investing in a constituent experience plan will take the support of the CFO from the beginning. The CFO will probably welcome an approach that brings together resources for a common goal and eliminates duplicate spending.

If you are the Chief Constituent Officer, you also need to align with the CIO. In this day and age, as a digital nonprofit, nothing happens without the IT department. If you get a jump on aligning with the IT department and their PMO, you will save yourself a lot of time and rework. You will also gain an ally in gaining financial support when the senior team reviews your plans.

Who owns the constituent data in your nonprofit? In some nonprofits that isn’t clear but the CMO will probably be a big stakeholder, along with the Chief Development Officer. If is critical that they both have a seat at the table as you put your plans together. Do they own with your constituent targets, data and plans for improving the experience with you?

One unique role you play as the Chief Constituent Officer is the ability to aggregate intelligence to identify the most important investments. You are the only one who can breathe life into the annual constituent plan. It will take time to bring together the right people to agree on the most pressing constituent challenges and opportunities. Once identified, you can work with senior management to gain agreement to work on solving the issues. Here are a couple of things to look for:

  1. Building relationships with priority constituents. Some of these will be obvious like high level donors but others may not.
  2. Fixing issues that impede the overall constituent experience.  As the Chief Constituent Officer, you are probably the only one that knows what these are.
  3. Points of differentiation and the big bets your nonprofit should make.

Now you are ready to pull an investment budget together. The emphasis here is on investment. It is critical to be able to identify the return these investments will bring to your mission. Now that you have a more integrated view of constituent priorities, you can make your case better. Since you are taking an enterprise wide view, all of the items for investment may actually live in other department budgets. This will drive greater levels of collaboration with your colleagues. As Chief Constituent Officer, you will be providing a great service that is really lacking to your nonprofit. The budgeting process is always where the rubber hits the road. It will help you gain traction and will help you identify roadblocks. It will also help everyone set a few critical priorities since it is highly likely there is a whole lot of extra money sitting around the table.

This type of action on your part as Chief Constituent Officer will help solidify your role as constituent zealot. It will also help everyone see the importance of the overall constituent experience.

What if your nonprofit doesn’t have a Chief Constituent Officer? This is the opportunity for some department (and its leader) to seize the day. It could be the CMO or the CDO. No matter what, someone needs to seize the role.

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Do you have an innovators heart for your nonprofit mission?

May 31, 2013 1 comment

There is a gap that is growing in your nonprofit. It is the gap between the connected constituent, their expectations and the programs, products and services you are offering. 80% of the U. S. adult population uses the internet. Most of them have smart phones or will soon. Most of your constituents are constantly connected from the time they wake up to the time they go to sleep. As nonprofits, our reality is a digital world. And so do you have a sense of urgency to bridge the gap?

What does it take to compete for the hearts of your connected constituents? Do you have a plan? Is that plan funded?

One thing to think through very carefully is the urgency to create a culture of innovation to be able to compete for the connected constituent. Someone is going to do it. Will it be your nonprofit?

You will be a hero if you take up that mantle. You will lead a journey to a new level of engagement for the connected constituent and their engagement with your mission. Do you have a heart for innovation? If so, then you will be a hero. You will be the champion for the new world. You will create amazing experiences to generate new loyalty to your cause.

So here is a challenge. Primarily for the C-Suite. Think through it carefully. One of the greatest opportunities before you is the evolution of the connected constituent. How your nonprofit is designed and structured today will work against you if nonprofit digital transformation is not on your agenda. As a leader, you know that management structure, goals, strategies, people, processes, systems, and rewards are all constructed to improve “what is” today. Typically we ignore “how it should be” for the new connected constituent. To innovate requires an innovators heart. Do you have one? Who else at your nonprofit does?

Your journey to change and transformation

May 30, 2013 1 comment

You are on a hero’s journey. I am writing for you and your passionate desire to learn how to harness disruption, innovate in completely new ways and most importantly, transform your nonprofit into a constituent focused machine. You are being introduced to new connected constituents. You are seeing how they progress through a dynamic journey. You are discovering how they respond and behave at each moment of truth about your mission. Generation C’ers are different than their traditional counterparts. You can’t reach them through direct mail. Their phone numbers (remember land lines) aren’t published. They may or may not subscribe to your eNewsletter. You can only reach them if they choose to be reached. They are in control of who they do (or don’t) connect with.

We are learning that our constituents are far more informed than we ever imagined. They are very, very sophisticated in their decision making. They are extremely savvy in their digital prowess. They have a capacity to multitask across multiple platforms and devices during the day and pick up right where they left off at night. We have to adapt to this new world.

We all want to improve the experience for our constituents. We know that experience right now it can be very disjointed. We yearn for our leadership to be innovative and visionary. We want it to be meaningful and not fanciful.

We have this sense that innovation starts with something perhaps simpler than transformation. We must go back to the basics of our mission and vision and align them with desirable outcomes and significant experiences. We may need to invest in programs and services that our constituents may not even know they need yet.

Here is a summary of some of the things we know:

  1. The new reality is the connected constituent that is opening up new touch points for our mission.
  2. How connected constituents are influenced and influence isn’t anything like our traditional constituents are.
  3. They expect something different. They are aligning with our missions for different reasons than we think. Think quality of experience. Think about how we treat our employees and constituents. Consider how sustainable the footprint you are leaving is visible. Obsess over engagement. This is what is important to our new constituents.
  4. The channels they use may never cross other channels. They can be fully contained from beginning to end on one device in one network. My children will sit in front of a very nice iMac searching for content on their smartphone.
  5. On the other hand, sometimes constituents will hop channels. They may look something up on the web and call you. What they expect is a seamless experience. It must be integrated. We have to bring these constituents with common goals together and intentionally design a seamless experience.
  6. Connected constituents value highly being valued. How can we find a new way express value and measure it?
  7. What does it take to connect with connected constituents?
    1. An understanding of how they behave and what they prefer.
    2. Some ability to read between the lines and innovate programs and services.
    3. Define the constituent experience and what it will look like across every channel and journey.
    4. A blueprint on how to change the philosophy, culture and technology to lead (champion) a new era of constituent experiences and engagement.

Simply saying we need to change probably isn’t the most helpful statement. We know that. Change takes, at a minimum, at least two things. First, you really have to want to. Desire and aspiration are essential. Second, it takes determination, stamina, fortitude and sheer will. It all however starts with a vision.

Most nonprofits are exploring new media, different technology, and alternative channels for better constituent engagement. To start with vision may sound trivial. Without vision, I would advocate, there probably won’t be any significant transformation. Transformation follows vision. Your next step may be to be the one to press pause. We can easily fall into the trap of chaotically rushing to the next big thing with understanding “Why are we doing this?” Be the leader to stop and ask why?

The Wilson Nonprofit Report for Wednesday, May 22, 2013

New Book: I am working on a soon to be published book. The working title is “The Digital Nonprofit: A Manifesto”. Here are some excerpts from the introduction (with links to the full draft). I would love any input, thoughts or suggestions you might have.

Are our nonprofit constituent experiences intentional? What does the future of your nonprofit look like? Is it focused on your mission AND design?

The premise of this manifesto is all about being intentional about the experiences our constituents are having.

How many programs, products and services do you have? How many channels (Web, Social, Mobile, Call Center, Direct Mail, etc.) are you focused on? Do they all have a unified design and experience?

Mission + Design = Intentional experiences.

We are clear about our mission. Are we clear about our design? More

Our nonprofit constituents are empowered and we can’t control that: Consumers are absolutely empowered through technology now. That means our constituents are as well. It has happened and it is a fact. We can’t control that. Sorry to point that out but that is our starting reality.

Our constituents are empowered. They know it. Do we?

They know they have influence. Do we?

Our constituents know they have voice that is powerful. They know they have more power than ever before. Do we know that and act that way? More

Are we creating heartfelt experiences at our nonprofit or not? Is that experience stunning? There comes a time where we have to make a decision. What will we invest in? It is a serious question and not a budget exercise. If we are going to be intentional and proactive, we need to make an investment. At first that may be just time. Eventually it will be about people, our processes, our strategies and our technology. If we don’t become intentional in our approach to our digital constituent experiences we will continue to be haphazard in our approach; reacting, responding, solving toxic experiences in real time. This intention however must be about heartfelt experiences. It must create a passion for our mission. More

Relevance is defined by how relevant the experience is: The constituent journey is evolving (albeit very, very fast). That shouldn’t surprise you but it is good news. You haven’t been left behind completely. Your constituents are changing though. Their experience of you and your mission may not be what any of us would want. In this case, relevance is defined by how relevant the experience is. Passion for the mission is contingent on amazing experiences.

How you personally decide to react or lead is up to you. It, of course, is not about technology. What is the journey of getting closer to constituents and staying relevant really about? Here are some ideas:

  • Creating a culture built around the constituent and their experience being the focus of all you do.
  • Empowering employees to do what it takes to create amazing experiences.
  • Opening up the floodgates of innovation.

Saying we want to get closer to constituent won’t get senior management on board. While a constituent revolution is at the C-Suite doors, someone (meaning you) needs to convince the top that change is imperative. Without that we will fail. More

Again, any feedback on “The Digital Nonprofit: A Manifesto” would be greatly appreciated.

 

Are we creating heartfelt experiences at our nonprofit or not? Is that experience stunning?

May 16, 2013 5 comments

There comes a time where we have to make a decision. What will we invest in? It is a serious question and not a budget exercise. If we are going to be intentional and proactive, we need to make an investment. At first that may be just time. Eventually it will be about people, our processes, our strategies and our technology. If we don’t become intentional in our approach to our digital constituent experiences we will continue to be haphazard in our approach; reacting, responding, solving toxic experiences in real time. This intention however must be about heartfelt experiences. It must create a passion for our mission.

There is of course, a very real cost to reacting. Scrutinize your budget and you will see that most of our fixed expenses are reactionary. What if we invested in proactive and intentional experiences of the heart up front? Could we radically reduce our reactionary and bloated fixed expenses? In fact, my guess is the reactionary expenses vastly exceed proactive expenses. I know nonprofits that are ramping up their expenses in reactionary engagement and relationships. The good news is that they are succeeding in shifting the negative to neutral or even the positive.

So what is the outcome of taking a negative and balancing it with a positive? Is it engagement or damage control? So what is the cost and value of neutralizing the negative? Shouldn’t we start with the amazing? What is the return on that investment in the stunning? What is probably most concerning is that most nonprofits are not measuring much of this. And why are we struggling to raise more money? Now think about that question. Why is our revenue flat? Why are donors not engaged and renewing their contributions?

Is the experience we are creating wonderfully sharable? If not, what is our investment over the next 3 months going to be in changing that? We must invest in not only a positive experience but an experience that screams out for our members, volunteers and donors to share it with everyone they know. That encourages others to join in. It also offsets any negative experiences anyone else has shared. Think about it. We all read the ratings and comments. If there are 100 over the top ones we can ignore the one that is virally negative writing it off to a weirdo.

What is the biggest deal? Trying to offset the negative experiences or proactively creating amazing ones? Creating amazing ones is everything. That is not an exaggeration. You know, from your own experiences that it is true. The cost of reacting is always eclipsed by the upside of the stunning.

Think of what you want. You are a consumer. You are the constituent who wants something from your nonprofit. Are you looking for the ordinary? No, you are looking for an experience, no, the experience.

Any nonprofit that recognizes you, remembers you, and gives you an amazing service experience will win your heart. And it is all about your heart. You will be loyal to them no matter what. That is what we know as relevance. A passion of our heart that transcends anything else.

And so, that heartfelt experience is not just a so-so something. It is everything. That kind of vision is the father of innovation. Who needs the mother of invention in that kind of world?

Our nonprofit constituents are empowered and we can’t control that

May 15, 2013 2 comments

Consumers are absolutely empowered through technology now. That means our constituents are as well. It has happened and it is a fact. We can’t control that. Sorry to point that out but that is our starting reality.

Our constituents are empowered. They know it. Do we?

They know they have influence. Do we?

Our constituents know they have voice that is powerful. They know they have more power than ever before. Do we know that and act that way?

If you a member of the C-Suite or executive team, did you receive a report today alerting you to what your donors (members / volunteers, etc.) said about you on Facebook, your call center, Twitter, YouTube, Tumbler, Blogs, Pinterest, etc. (the list is ever evolving). Do you receive it every day? Do you get weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual summaries? Have you engaged with any of them personally yourself? If not, it is a reasonable why isn’t that important to you?

Even if we aren’t seeing it, other constituents (or potential constituents) are seeing what is going on. They are forming an opinion of us based on those comments. We can’t control what is being said. We can control how we will react in real time about it. We can control changing the experience in the future.

Say a constituent has a bad experience on your web site and they tweet about it. Do we think others have had the same experience and haven’t said anything? You bet they have. Do we think others will find the same thing and either say something or not in the future? Yes they will find it and yes they will say something or not. There is no hiding. If there is one horrible review out there, they will find it and not the 100 positive things others have said about us.

Nonprofits are beginning to listen to what is being said on social media and respond to it if they can. It does require a commitment of resources but it is not going away. More and more constituents (or potential constituents) are going to share the good, the bad and the ugly about their experience with us.

Have you started to shift resources into engaging on social platforms? How does that compare to your investment in your call center? Is your call center and social media center integrated in the approach you want your constituents to have? We have to manage our online reputation.

What are our constituents going to align with if we don’t first define the experience up front? What do we want them to be a part of? Now is the time to invest more in the experience rather than improve how the donation transaction occurs. Our future as nonprofits is in creating programs that scream out in splendor. It is about experiences that kindle meaningful and sincere interactions at every turn. At the center of our evolution (or is it a revolution) is the experience. The experience is everything now.

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