An Employee's Small Gesture Can Send a Big Message

I experienced this incident first-hand about a month ago. I think it illustrates how even small gestures can have large (and sometimes negative) consequences.

I was interested in registering for two events that were being run by a nonprofit organization.  I checked the website but was only able to find details about one of the events.  I emailed the organization (at the email address provided) to register for the  events and to check if the second event was even taking place:

…I am also interested in the event taking place on [such and such date] but do not see it on the website.  Is that still happening? What time will that be?

The response I got was:

…The second event is still happening and can be found on the Events Calendar.

Needless to say, this answer was nowhere close to being helpful; the employee neither provided me with an exact time nor did she provide a link.  Instead, the staff person took about 0.3 seconds from his day to advise me to check the Events Calendar — which I had already done at the beginning, but to no avail.

Frustrated and flabbergasted by the seemingly lack of caring, I rewrote my email three times until I was able to send the employee something free of sarcasm and that didn’t sound patronizing (it’s never a good idea to email when annoyed, emails always come out harsher than you intend).  If I was a donor, I definitely would have been less inclined to support the organization.  I know I’ve seen donors abandon great causes for less.

This story brought into focus a blog post I read a few months ago entitled “Whose Responsibility is Fundraising Anyway?” by Stephen Donshik.

In the non-profit organization who is responsible for raising funds? The real answer is everyone affiliated with the organization…Every staff person has a role in fundraising for the organization and this includes all administrative staff as well as the professionals who deliver the services to the clients…When someone responds in a friendly, “how can I help you” way, this says a great deal. When someone answers the phone and tries to direct the call to the appropriate person with patience this makes a lasting impression. These are the kinds of responses that encourage people to want to support an organization.

With regards to customer relations, it is critical that every employee is on the same (and correct) page.  A little training and a smile can go a long way.

Tizku LeMitzvot [May you continue to merit doing good deeds],


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