Summer’s Here! Got Volunteers?

Of the organizations that have written expectations and standard operating procedures for contacting customers (which most don’t), the vast majority focus only on full-time permanent staff. This is a BIG hole in the impressions you make on your customers. Volunteers, part-time, and seasonal people represent your organization too. They form just as much of an impression as everyone else. Your customers don’t have any idea that they are in a different pay scale or job grade. Would you expect it to be OK that a volunteer provided bad service just because they weren’t getting paid? It’s really absurd when you think about it, but again and again, when programs are examined, I find this oversight all the time.

The justification that I hear is that these employees are not going to be around long so the organization does not want to invest training time. The point here is that it doesn’t take much training at all.

Please consider putting together a simple one page checklist of specific expectations to that job duty, signed and dated by the volunteer or part-timer. The checklist will 1) define the organization’s expectations, 2) increase the likelihood of that person’s success, and 3) obligate the person to attempt to rise to the level of your expectation. There are way too many variables out there to trust someone to “just be good at customer service.”

This attitude about part time employees and volunteers is a little short sighted as well. Volunteers, depending on your organization, can contributed hugely to the success of your programs. In one local government agency alone, in 2008, volunteers contributed almost $10,000,000 in equivalent non-paid hours! At the National average of about $18/hour for volunteer work, that’s thousands of hours of customer contact with volunteers representing that organization.

How many customer contacts happen every year with volunteers and part time employees in your organization? Isn’t it worth making sure they are great ones?

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