The customer always comes first

Once upon a time, a charity organization undertook a
fundraising campaign to help the blind. Targets were set and
each volunteer was given a specific role and responsibility.
Weekly meetings were held, and recognition programs for
volunteers were developed to motivate them, for collecting
large donations. When the campaign ended, they fell short of
the overall target. A brain-storming session was held to find
what went wrong. They could not find a suitable answer and
thus, they invited a consultant.

The consultant told each of the volunteers, to meet blind
persons and find out what help they wanted. The volunteers
met several blind persons. They found that some wanted a
new walking stick, some wanted a new pair of dark glasses,
some wanted to learn Braille, while some wanted food and
clothes. Then, the consultant along with the volunteers,
estimated the cost of the help that the blind persons wanted.
He prepared a list containing the blind persons’ names,
addresses, help required, cost of helping, and the total cost.

He gave each volunteer a copy of the list and asked them
to show the list, to individual or organizational donors. An
online and offline donor book was created, wherein the
name of each donor was to be mentioned with thanks. For
large donors, tax rebates as per law, were also offered. He
told the volunteers not to insist on any particular amount
and let the donors decide, how much they wanted to donate,
as per their respective capacities. He trained the volunteers
to understand that the donors were the customers, hence
every donor, big or small, was equally important and was to
be treated with equal respect and care.

Soon, not only was the target met but it was exceeded.
Again, a brain-storming session was held to find out what
went right. The consultant said that he simply shifted the
focus, from the volunteers to the donors.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time: 100 Management Stories” by Rajen Jani

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