How Empathy Plays a Part in Retaining Blood Donors

This blog post comes to us from Team Captain Cesar Vanderpool. Cesar is a master at being able to level with donors and retain them by using active listening skills and showing empathy in his calls. Here are some tips from him on the importance of showing empathy to donors who might have not had the best experience donating.

“I can’t donate blood. Last time I did, they missed my vein, and I got a black-and-blue spot.”

Empathy from Blood Donors

This is a common response that Conversational Marketing™ Experts (CMEs) face when trying to recruit a blood donor. At this point, it is up to the CME to change the donor’s perspective on donating blood. Donors who have a bad experience are the ones who need the most conversational care. It is very important to be apologetic and empathetic toward these donors. Being apologetic lets the donor know that we actually do care about their experience beyond scheduling an appointment to donate with us. If someone has a bad experience and it goes unnoticed it basically shows the donor that we only care about their blood and not their well-being.

Being empathetic lets the donor know that you care. The first way to show these things is not only apologize, but also to listen and engage yourself with that donor. You should always ask questions and listen to the donor’s full experience. You almost want to ask enough questions so that the donor paints a picture of the experience for you to visualize in your head. This makes you more conversational, and it makes it easier to relate to the donor. Simply having the conversation lets the donor know that their opinions do matter to us. Relating to them makes them feel more comfortable that maybe they aren’t the only one who has ever had a bad experience. By being apologetic and empathetic, it makes the final stage fall right into place. This is the step of actually retaining the donor.

The importance of showing empathy: retaining the donor

If you don’t properly do these things, it could cause the donor to not want to donate with us again. During the retaining process it’s important to let the donor know that we do have trained professionals on our staff, and mistakes like this do happen, but it is not typically a recurring issue. No one would want to donate if they felt that they would have a bad experience every time. One way to help lighten the mood for a donor is to tell them they should have this same conversation with the phlebotomist who is taking their blood during their next donation. Explaining these types of things with the phlebotomist will let them know that they have to take extra care of you, because they know that you are worried about a recurrence.

Once you’ve gotten the donor comfortable with the notion that we do care, their opinions are valued, and we want to make things as comfortable for them as possible, go into the importance of donating. Throwing facts at the donor (such as each donation can save up to 3 lives or that their platelets only have a shelf life of five days) makes the donor feel important. Show the donor that despite them having a bad experience the good outshines the bad. There are lives being saved. Even throwing in fun facts (like the blood is going to your local hospital so you actually are helping in your community) makes them think that they are doing more than donating; they are saving lives.

All in all, these are the more difficult donors to retain. By showing them (or in our case, telling them) the significant value and the importance of what they do, blood donors will feel better about the experience and, ultimately, keep them donating.

Saving lives is the name of the game!