Sunday, November 20, 2011

It’s Not Over Solicitation If It’s Relevant

L.L. Bean is a master of customer relationship management. 

I ordered a couple of Christmas gifts for the kids online the other day and here is what I received:

10:00 PM, Sunday night: Gifts ordered online
  • 10:07 PM, Sunday night: L.L. Bean sent me an email with the subject line “Thank You For Your Order (Note: May Contain Gift Information)”. This was great. I could confirm that my order was received properly and Bean provided a toll-free number in case there were any issues. They even included a heads-up that this email could contain gift information if I needed to keep it from my kids peering over my shoulder. Also prominently displayed was a link to a video titled “Ever wonder what happens after you place an order?” Check it out here, it is a paragon of customer focused communication:
  • 11:44 PM, Sunday night: Less than 40 minutes later I received another email with the subject line “ Your L.L. Bean Order Confirmation (Note: May Contain Gift Information)”.  This time the email included a link to track my order and noted that one of my items was back-ordered (along with the anticipated availability date). I was also informed that my order qualified for a $10 promotional gift card that would arrive in about 10 days. Wow! Nice surprise.
  • 10:14 PM, Monday night: I received a shipping confirmation email letting me know which items had shipped.
  • 3:42 PM, Wednesday afternoon: I received another ship confirmation email showing what additional items had shipped and included a link that showed me where my package was at that very moment (the trip from Maine to Illinois to Missouri)
  • 4:30 PM, Thursday afternoon: I received two of my four ordered items. Waiting in my inbox was an email with the subject line “Good News, Your Packages Have Been Delivered (Note: May Contain Gift Information)”.  It also reiterated the Bean 100% satisfaction guarantee and provided step-by-step instructions for returns.

Five emails in five days. Each one relevant and helpful -- one even providing notice of the unexpected $10 gift card. 

Oh, and with each email L.L. Bean featured pictures of and links to interesting items related to my purchases tempting me to consider additional purchases.

What can fundraisers learn from a top-notch merchandiser like L.L. Bean? 

Let’s consider the following potential scenario:
  1. Within minutes of an online contribution you send the donor an effusive thank-you email. 
  2. On day two you send an email note stating that the donor's contribution has been directed to a program or department to be put to immediate use.
  3. Then, within a day or two, you report back to the donor the potential impact of their gift. Perhaps you share a story of a person or a program that will be helped. 
  4. Lastly, the donor receives an email note of gratitude directly from a program director or an individual who has benefited from the gift. 
You also include in one of your emails a link to a video titled “Have you ever wondered what happens after you make a gift?” I'm sure many donors really do wonder about that, especially since they often never hear from an institution again until the next “ask”.

Additionally, each email correspondence includes links to other programs and giving opportunities. 

Do you think the donor would consider this over solicitation? 

Bet not. 

I dare say the donor would be thrilled and might even spring for an additional gift just to start this satisfying process all over again. 

Give it a try and report back your results!

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