Monday, October 18, 2010

Creating Experiences, Part 1: Product

Anyone who knows me or has read this blog before probably knows of my passion for guest services in the church. If you’re new, here’s an introduction. For those veterans, I’m introducing a 3-part post on Creating Experiences, Starbucks style – and what your church (or any people-focused organization) can learn.

In just a three sentences, here is what the Green Apron Book (the customer service guide for Starbucks) says about experience:

Creating the experience that keeps people coming back relies on the magical combination of three things: our products, our places, and our people.

They come for the coffee, stay for the inviting warmth, and return for the various human connections.

Now go ahead, welcome your next new regular!

With just a couple of words substituted, do you wish the same thing could be said for your church? It can – with the right focus on products, places, and people.


Q: What business is Starbucks in?
A: It may not be what you think!

Here’s a quote from founder and current CEO Howard Schultz:

We are not in the coffee business serving people, but in the people business serving coffee. The equity of the Starbucks brand is the humanity and intimacy of what goes on in the communities…We continually are reminded of the powerful need and desire for human contact and community, which is a new, powerful force in determining consumer choices…The Starbucks experience has become as important as the coffee itself.

Q: What business is your church in?

You didn’t think I was going to answer that for you, did you? Only you and your leadership team can answer that, but I am suggesting your church is in the people business. Your church doesn’t manufacture and sell an object, but you do seek to produce something: changed lives.

The “raw materials” you start with are the pinnacle of God’s creation – after all, we are made in His image. But even so, we are all in process. Somewhere between birth and death, all of us are on a journey. Your church needs to balance the frailty and possibility of everyone you encounter, and create experiences that accept them where they are, challenge them to move toward where they need to be, and walk with them along the way.

Churches that understand their “product” and create vital, life-changing experiences – those are the churches that are making a difference in our world today.

What are you creating at your church?

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