3 Ways To Create Exceptional Experiences At Your Church
By: Jennifer Winge
I was in Orlando recently visiting one of our clients, and I scheduled in a few free hours to head to Disney Springs to do some Christmas shopping. I had no idea where to park and somehow ended up at the valet parking. I was greeted by a "cast member," as Disney calls all of their staff, and when I asked her where the regular parking was, I was met with a magical Disney moment.
I was reminded why Disney has set the bar in an extraordinary example of customer service and creating great experiences. Instead of being irritated that I wasn’t parking in valet and that she wasn't getting a tip, she kindly asked me what shops I wanted to visit, told me which parking garage would be the closest to that area, and gave me detailed directions on how to get there. All this was done with a smile.
This interaction reminded me of things we can do at our church campuses to create excellent "customer service" moments for everyone who steps foot on the property of our church.
1. First interactions matter.
For most churches, the first place for interaction (or lack of interaction) is in the parking lot. I could get to Disney Springs using Google maps, but getting me to the right parking area for my needs was not something Google could do.
People can put our church address in Google and get there, but then what? Let’s make sure they (1) see a smiling and welcoming face when they pull into the parking lot and (2) let them know where to go. I have seen some exceptional churches do exceptional things to make these great first impressions happen. I have seen a parking team with big Mickey Mouse hands waving people in (and no, this was not a church in Florida or California). Some churches ask visitors to put their flashers on when they pull into the parking lot so they can be directed to a VIP experience. Your parking team and parking process matter to the first impression people get of your church.
2. Listening is important.
The valet parking attendant did not try to upsell me to valet parking. Instead, she listened to what I said and directed me to exactly where I needed to be. I asked her where regular parking was. Her listening to my initial question led her to asking me some more clarifying questions so she could serve me the best way possible. She listened. Listening to people when they come to our church campus is essential. Are they new, do they need to know what to do with their kids, do they want information on the church, or do they just need directions to the restroom?
3. Train, train, & retrain.
If you have ever read anything about Disney, you know exceptional customer service is a huge part of cast training. It is not just part of new cast member training, it is continually reiterated and celebrated.
Some people have a natural bend toward customer service. Hopefully, we all have some of those people on our First Impressions or Greeter volunteer teams. But let’s be real, most teams are made up of primarily people who want to serve Jesus and are willing to learn. Church leaders need to decide what type of consistent experience we want people to have when on our campus, visiting our website, or at a church event, then we should train our staff and volunteers accordingly. We need to continually communicate what a great experience looks like.
We also have to celebrate whenever we catch one of our volunteers or staff being exceptional. Celebrate when you get a guest survey that says, “I felt so welcomed!” What is celebrated will be emulated.
As I walked through Disney Springs for those few hours, I enjoyed myself thoroughly. I may have even stayed there a little longer than I had planned. All because I felt like someone really was glad I was there. (For a great read on some amazing Disney leadership strategies, check out Creating Magic by Lee Cockerell.)
What are some things you do that create exceptional experiences for the people who come in contact with your church?