Connecting with current and future donors

By inviting people to connect when it’s best for them, through their preferred channels, we’re working to create the kind of experiences that can inspire lifelong support.

In 2017–2018, over 410,000 people visited Canadian Blood Services donor centres — up about one per cent over the previous year. What may appear to be modest growth becomes more remarkable when we consider that nearly 235,000 donors were either new (101,000) or reinstated (134,000) following a lapse of at least 12 months. We replaced 58 per cent of the total number of blood donors and, for the first time since 9/11, recruited more than 100,000 new donors in a single year.

We’re encouraged by the progress we’ve made in attracting and retaining blood donors using a range of strategies. In September 2017, the number of donation appointments booked using digital devices was higher than those made by phone for the first time. And by the end of March 2018, we had reached our target of booking 30 per cent of appointments online.

This shift to digital technologies has helped us make our National Call Centre more efficient. With the introduction of outbound calling technology over the past year, our team members no longer have to manually call donors to remind them of their appointments. Instead, they can focus on answering donors’ questions, getting to know them better and helping them feel more connected to us.

Changing channels

Our work to strengthen our relationships with donors is also reflected in our redesigned mobile app, which was launched in the fall of 2017. Using the new features of the app, donors can choose their preferred donor centres and access their personal health information such as their hemoglobin levels and — a surprisingly popular piece of information — the average time it takes them to fill a unit of blood. After the new app was launched, donors’ engagement levels and the rate at which they booked their appointments online went up by 30 per cent.

Our web presence, too, is evolving. Donors who like the convenience of booking through our website appreciate being able to review their donation profiles and find more general information about transfusion and transplantation. As we learn more about donor preferences, we will continue to make improvements to our website. Social media also play a growing part in helping us to recruit more donors, largely through our national and regional Facebook and Twitter accounts.

In 2017, we launched our first chat bot on our Facebook page. Aimed at younger donors, the interactive tool is designed to answer common questions, share stories and make donors feel more comfortable with the donation process. Based on this pilot, we’re now enhancing the concept and expanding our target audience to include donors between 25 and 35 years old, a key demographic for us as we work to build a more sustainable blood system.

Introducing our Donor concierge

In 2017 we introduced a pilot project called the Donor Concierge in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver. On arriving at the donor centre, donors check in at a digital kiosk — similar to the ones used in many retail stores — where they can see their appointment priority on an electronic display. The Donor Concierge also prompts them to book their next appointment with options to arrange text or email reminders.

The next step in the process, health screening, is also paperless, and therefore quicker and more accurate. Meanwhile, a donor service representative is always on hand to provide support for walk-in donors who haven’t booked appointments or for anyone who needs extra help.

In fact, one of the things we’ve learned from the Donor Concierge pilot is that however much people value the convenience and simplicity of going through some steps of the donation process digitally, they often want the human touch at certain points in the process. As we gauge the most appropriate staffing levels at our donor centres and determine when people who book digitally may still want to contact us by phone, we’re aiming to find the right balance between technological efficiency and the human touch.