I’ve been working on/obsessing over donor (and sometimes client) journeys lately. You can lose everything because your path to bringing people in and keeping them in isn’t thoughtful – thoughtful in both the clever and the sentimental sense. So it’s not a bad thing to obsess over, really.
My gym recently changed hands. I was emotionally connected to the old one for various reasons, but the various reasons probably all stemmed from it being a nice place to be. Good people who were talented in their jobs and who remembered you. I realized at some point that I’d showered more in that gym than in any house I’d lived in this town. (Disclaimer: I swear that’s down to a lot of time in the gym and not a lack of cleanliness.)
I tell you all this so that you have some picture of me, the individual, in the process of joining a new gym, rather than some cog, joining any old reasonably-sized organization…
I bought a pack of personal trainer sessions with my joining fee offer and Stephen, the membership guy, went on to ask me a series of questions by email about what I was looking for in a trainer. Good start, I thought, as I answered them. Paying for training is a fairly personal investment of time and money and is often quite an intimate relationship: You go sweat and shake in front of someone who you also have to admit to when you can’t do things to and celebrate with when you get them right. That’s more open than a lot of people get with most of their friends.
This conversation with Stephen carried on for a few more emails before he had the gist of what would work for me. He told me about the trainer he was matching me with and why. All sounds good. Reasons for the actions you take? Lovely, yes please I’ll have some of that.
A little while later the chap I’ve been matched to sends me a generic email talking about how I’ve taken the first step to something along the lines of “the fitness of my dreams”, or something as cliché and, clearly, forgettable. He asks me similar questions to those Stephen had asked me, scans my answers and matches me with someone else. I like yoga and the new match likes yoga, too. Bingo, let’s get married!
Oh, wait, no, it’s not that simple…I'd been turned into a cog. When did I get turned into a cog?! Who stole the genuine conversation I’d had with Stephen? Did somebody lock Stephen in a cupboard without his phone, making him unable to pass on my info? Where did all my fitness history and personal preferences get lost?
One waste-of-time PT session and one better-match later and I think I have a new standard question for myself and for my clients: We’re all busy, but when our donors or our clients bring us data that we’d pay top dollar for if we wanted to seek it out, where do we put that data?
It's a good thing to know, because it's crap being a cog and not something people stick at.