Do you long for the “good old days” when the pace of our lives was simpler and life was slower? As comedian Will Rogers once said, “Things ain’t what they used to be – and probably never was.” There’s no use longing for the good old days. In a world that is:
- Increasingly hurried
- Painfully insecure
- Physically and mentally exhausting
- Socially and economically fragmented, and
- Psychologically and emotionally demanding
Millions of people are desperately in need of opportunities to feel:
- Free from time pressure
- Safe and secure in their surroundings
- Pleasantly stimulated, physically and mentally
- At peace with themselves and others, and
- Ready to be open-minded, creative, and productive
Organizations that can provide such opportunities by re-imagining the customer experience will attract an enormous number of customers in the years ahead and keep them coming back.
Customer experience – in a church?
Here’s where the “common sense” comes into play. Just like the business you frequent often, churches delivering experiences that exceed guest’s expectations are those to which people return, again and again, until they’re no longer guests but full-fledged members of the church community. When a guest thinks “Wow!” it is because he or she feels affirmed or valued. The church has said, “You matter.”
While you may not be trying to sell a product, your guest (and potential member) is very much “shopping” for a church. More important, they are shopping for a spiritual experience that addresses their personal needs. Why not make sure you do all in your power to make it happen?
A Potpourri of Guest Improvement Ideas
Visit your church …again – How familiar are you with your own church building and campus? We all tend to get comfortable with our own surroundings and overlook what our guests see. Try to see your facilities through a fresh set of eyes – your guest’s eyes.
How easy is it to drive onto your campus and find convenient parking close to your buildings?
What’s the condition of the parking lots, sidewalks, and landscaping?
Are there greeters and parking lot helpers to guide you into the building?
Are the buildings and rooms identified?
Is there a welcome area that is warm and inviting and that has smiling helpful people staffing it?
Do you have a café or refreshment area nearby for guests and members?
If you have children, it is easy to find the right place for them? Do the security measures in place give you a sense of peace as you leave your child?
Visit another church in your community – What can you learn from visiting another church? How do they handle parking and greeting? What kinds of signage do they use? How are the people greeting one another? Do feel like they’re invading your “space”, or are you comfortable? When you first walk inside the building, what do you smell? Is the area visually cluttered, or pleasing? What’s the noise level like? Is there a café area? Is it clean? Overall, does the facility make you feel welcome? How does the personal impact of the people fit in to the surroundings?
Visit other types of places and engage all your senses – The next time you dine out, take on the role of a critic. Not just of the food, but of the total experience. What are your impressions of the parking area, the restaurant, host/hostess, wait time, staff – and don’t forget the food! How was the experience? What wowed you? You’re not trying to find something wrong – you’re trying to train yourself to use all your senses to imagine what guests are experiencing when they come to your church.
Identify potential distractions – and work to remove them – If your guests become distracted because they can’t find a place to park, or their children’s room has an odor in it, or whatever, you will have a difficult time re-engaging them for the real experience you’re trying to establish: a personal encounter with Jesus. When you eliminate potential or obvious distractions, you are one step closer to satisfying your guests.
Company’s coming – are you ready to “Wow” them? Use your common sense to engage all of your guest’s senses and their first impression will be a positive – and lasting one.
Expand your “sensory knowledge" by reading:
First Impressions: Creating Wow Experiences in Your Church, Mark L. Waltz.
How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci, Michael J. Gelb
Chocolates on the Pillow Aren’t Enough, Jonathan M. Tisch