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3 things your charity can do to define its ‘new normal’ experience

I’ve previously written about my views on the ‘new normal’, the range of areas you really ought to consider in preparing for whatever that ‘new normal’ might be and the power of understanding deeply how you do what you do.

I thought I’d share with you three specific things you can easily do, right now, that will go a long way to helping you define how your beneficiaries and service users will experience and interact with your charity in the months ahead.

Start by listening to your beneficiaries and service users. They will tell you how you’re doing and you have loads of data already. Have a look at your website data. What is your overall traffic trend, what is the bounce rate from your main landing page (if people are only looking at your landing page and are not motivated to browse elsewhere you can assume your online charity 'shop window' needs improvement)? What are the comments you’re getting across Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms that you might use? If your charity has a retail presence, what does the sales data tell you? What do your complaints tell you and remember to look beyond the actual words and pick out the underlying messages and emotions. Similarly, look beyond just numbers, think about categorising and understanding trends. If you want to be really radical, why not just chat to your beneficiaries, customers and service users about their experiences of interacting with you?

Next listen to what your employees and volunteers have to say - often their interactions with the public will give you a gold mine of information. But beyond that, understand what gets in the way of them delivering brilliant service. Find out what things have been implemented as work arounds on a local basis during the pandemic that could change the way you do business in the future. How engaged and motivated are your people in supporting your charity’s mission and how empowered or involved are they in real service improvements? How well do you share knowledge and experience? What do you recognise in your charity award schemes if you have them - often service delivery is either ignored or appears as an afterthought. What data do you have about people leaving your business; does that give any extra insights if you view it from a service provision perspective?

Be honest, how easy are you to do business / engage with? What is it like to actually engage with your charity? Do you really know? Have you tried interacting with your charity anonymously or asked friends or contacts to do that so you can really stand in the beneficiaries / service users shoes? Particularly look for areas where things happen across partner organisations, teams, offices or technology (for example face to face then into IT, Internet to physical operations). Any hand off in your charity is a potential problem area. What has or might happen to any retail sales? Is there a change in the balance between physical / online presence being called for? Most of all identify and stop doing non value adding stuff to your public, employees and volunteers - stand back and you’ll find examples of it, every charity does.

Three simple things that won’t cost the earth but can provide game changing insights that will allow the ‘new normal’ to be even better than the old one.

If you’d like help bringing this to life, for example in defining your new beneficiary / service user experience or assessing how easy you are to do business with, we are ready, as always, to help.

By the way, in my next blog, I’ll be exploring how you can use this simple approach to review the experience of your Funders, donors, regulators, the public and the media.

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