Caring For Customers: Community Outreach As Customer Service

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At a time when so much business is occurring online, reaching out to customers where they live is an effective way to build community loyalty. It’s a way to take customer service to the next level.

Your employees will go from faceless representatives to genuine, caring members of the community when you take this approach. Charitable acts and outreach programs are somewhat neglected, but not entirely lost art of customer service, in the digital era.

You can do many things to highlight the larger mission of your business while putting a face on what might otherwise be an unknown firm … plus, you’ll have a personal impact on people’s lives in the process.

If you’re committed to joining the ranks of the top companies for customer service, here are some suggestions for excellent ways to give back.

Sponsor Local Foster Care Organizations

During the holidays in particular, foster care operations struggle to get by. Though they might gather sufficient funds to feed and clothe the children, when it comes to real gifts, clothing that’s in current fashion, and real-world experiences, their resources may not cover it.

You can reach out to the community by sponsoring these organizations. Provide holiday gifts, donate money for a shopping spree, or take children to a baseball game.

You can do your part by participating in the betterment of foster care organizations in your community.

Set Up Community Grant Programs

One way that many companies are getting their employees more involved with the business as well as the community is through annual grant programs. The firm gives employees a set amount of money to give away, and the employees get the task of finding a worthy cause to which to donate it.

If you worry your employees might spend the money, don’t give them a check. Instead, tell them the amount of a bond you’ll write in the charity’s name. That way, only worthy recipients will be able to get access to the funds.

Sponsor a Youth Sports Program

Maybe someone you work with has a child on a sports team that needs a sponsor. By sponsoring a local team, you can not only advertise your business, but show your involvement with the community. It will give your firm a more genuine feel, and that should enhance your overall customer service ratings.

Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity is a program that gives businesses the opportunity to participate in construction projects that help the homeless or other disadvantaged residents. You could just donate money, but the best way to show your dedication is to organize a volunteering event in which your employees get their hands dirty by diving into a local building project.

Raise Money

With crowdfunding, it’s easy to raise funds for a good cause. Choose a local charity, homeless shelter, youth rec center, or other suitable cause and launch a fundraising drive for it. Get your employees involved on social media to help raise awareness and promote your company’s involvement.

Incentivize Volunteering

One of the great things about community service is that once you get involved, it can be pretty contagious. But sometimes your employees need that initial push. Create some kind of contest or other incentive that will encourage your staff to reach out.

This is most easy to do if you choose a single volunteer effort and alert your employees to participate in that. For example, you might choose to support a local youth community center, and promise that whoever spends the most hours volunteering there will receive a bonus or a prime parking space at the end of the month.

Making your business a more active member of the community is one of the most important customer service efforts you can mount. It builds respect and a good reputation, improves the livability of the community, makes your employees more invested in their work, furthers your connections, and improves your overall customer service ratings. 

Larry Alton
Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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