Where Does Your Guest Experience Start?

When a Guest pulls into your parking lot for your weekend worship experience, do you consider that the beginning of your Guest Experience process?

Elevation Parking 2

I hope not.

How you answer the question asked in the title of this post may very well be one of the most important determining factors of the success of your Guest Experiences.

Your Guest’s Experience with your organization begins well in advance of pulling into your parking lot and finishes long after leaving.

How so?

Consider that many first time Guests to your church “check you out” online in advance of coming. For many, your “digital doorway” is their first impression. How’s that working for you?

Another, less obvious connection is with your physical facility – owned, leased, whatever. Everyone driving buy 24/7 gets a subtle – but sometimes very overt – message about you from your facility. What do your Guests see Monday – Friday? What about the weekend?

Any kind of communication – print, digital, verbal – is also making an impression on your Guests. Are you intentional in your communication? When your Guest arrives, will their experience in reality match up with the expectations created by your communications?

There are other examples, but I think you get the point: your Guest Experience starts long before – and continues well after – you Guest is physically present.

So where does your Guest Experience actually begin?

  • Is it a thought process triggered by events in a Guest’s life (good or bad)? People undergoing life change will often instinctively reach out to the church for comfort or growth opportunities.
  • Is it when your regular attenders verbally ask their friends and neighbors to join them for the new series you’re starting next week?
  •  Is it a more direct contact, like a print piece or other form of marketing that landed in their mailbox, or their inbox?
  • Is it the story your facility tells – one that invites people into a place, expecting something positive and uplifting to occur?
  • Is it when your church is seen out and about in the community, serving others in a visible and noticeable way?

All of the above – and many more you can think of – occur before a Guest physically comes onto your property.

For whatever reason, a Guest is thinking about, or has decided, to come to your place.

For them, the Guest Experience has already begun.

 

How You Say Good Bye is as Important as How You Say Hello

Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.Walt Disney

The Disney organization has no peer when it comes to creating amazing Guest Experiences. Their Cast Member interaction with Guests is legendary in providing a warm welcome to the Disney Parks. From your arrival by car, monorail, or boat, the Guest is almost overwhelmed by the tremendous “first impression” that Disney Cast Members deliver.

But I think it’s how Disney says “goodbye” that leaves a “lasting impression.

Just a few weeks ago on Independence Day, I’m sure many of you saw and heard first hand fireworks of all shapes and sizes. Independence Day fireworks are memorable, and they add a special feeling to the festivities of the day. But fireworks at Disney parks – they are unique.

At Disney World, the fireworks in 3 of the 4 parks (the animals in Disney’s Animal Kingdom can’t handle the noise) are simply spectacular. Here’s how Aaron Wallace, author of The Thinking Fan’s Guide to Walt Disney World: Magic Kingdom describes it:

Suddenly, almost without warning, the park goes dark, the castle lights up in a blinding white blaze, and the enormous trumpeting of horns heralds the long-awaited arrival of the fireworks show.

Words alone can’t convey the impact of that moment. There is no point during the Disney park experience when the magic hits harder than with the opening notes of the fireworks show. To quote Jiminy Cricket, “like a bolt out of the blue,” a feeling of “WOW! I’m actually in Disney World” washes over the crowd in that split second.

The show continues to build in intensity, the music gets louder, the fireworks more majestic until at the end, the sky is seemingly covered from horizon to horizon with a colorful canvas of memories and magic.

photo by Tom Brickman

photo by Tom Brickman

That’s what the Guests remember – and it makes them start thinking about the next time they can return.

But it isn’t quite time to say goodbye – for those hardy souls who have the stamina and endurance to remain till the park’s closing – and just a little longer – there is one more Disney magic surprise – the Kiss Goodnight.

As DisneyTouristBlog.com author Tom Bricker explains,

Too few Walt Disney World fans know about The Kiss Goodnight. If you just thought, “what’s that?” you’re not alone. The Kiss Goodnight is a little over 2-minutes long, and it is the Magic Kingdom’s way of saying “goodbye” to guests at the end of a long day. It usually plays every 30 minutes after the park closes and starts with Cinderella Castle “twinkling” as the music from When You Wish Upon a Star slowly builds.

photo by Tom Brickman

photo by Tom Brickman

A narrator then greets the last of the guests in the Magic Kingdom, saying: Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, on behalf of everyone here at the Magic Kingdom, we thank you for joining us today for a magic gathering of family, friends, fun, and fantasy. We hope your magical journey with us has created wonderful memories that will last a lifetime. Walt Disney said that the Magic Kingdom is a world of imagination, hopes, and dreams. In this timeless land of enchantment, magic and make-believe are reborn, and fairy tales come true. The Magic Kingdom is a place for the young and the young at heart. A special place where when you wish upon a star, your dreams can come true. Until we see you again, have a safe trip home. Thank you, and goodnight.”

The Kiss Goodnight is the proverbial icing on the Cake (Castle!). After a long day in the parks, we can’t help but just stop and watch the Kiss Goodnight, completely frozen and unable to move. For us, the combination of the beautiful light display and hearing about the meaning Walt Disney wanted the parks to have for guests does it every time.

I’m convinced that most people who “get” the Disney theme parks would get goose bumps if they were to stand in a mostly empty Magic Kingdom and watch and listen to this on a tranquil Main Street USA. It’s special not just because you’re in the park at such a peaceful time, essentially by yourself with Cinderella Castle, but also because of the significance of the words in Roy O. Disney’s Walt Disney World opening day dedication speech. The Kiss Goodnight basically embodies and reminds us exactly why it’s so great to be a Disney fan. If you haven’t stayed to experience The Kiss Goodnight before, you should definitely make an effort to do it at least once. It absolutely belongs on everyone’s Disney Bucket List.

Now that’s a goodbye!

Which leads me to a simple, closing question:

How do you tell your Guests goodbye?

Too Much Brainstorming Will Only Leave You All Wet

The conventional wisdom that innovation can be institutionalized or done in a formal group is simply wrong. – Debra Kaye, Red Thread Thinking

According to author Debra Kaye in Red Thread Thinking, recent studies of the brain make it clear why the best new ideas don’t emerge from formal brainstorming.

The brain doesn’t make connections in a rigid atmosphere – there’s too much pressure and too much influence from others in the group. The “free association” most often given as a benefit of brainstorming is often shackled by peer pressure, delivering obvious, predictable responses.

What’s the answer? Try getting away from it all.

Fresh ideas come when your brain is relaxed and engaged in something other than the particular problem you are embroiled in. To harness strategic intuition, you have to leave the subject and the facts and stop thinking so hard about them.

Maybe you should waste a little time…

Here are 7 ways to use the power of wasting time to jump-start your thinking:

  • Meditation – meditation increases your power of concentration and allows your mind to become free enough to let ideas flow
  • Sleep on it – sometimes, you just need to put your project aside overnight. When the pressure is off, it’s amazing what possibilities develop
  • Sleep tight – research has shown that when you learn something and then sleep on it, your knowledge of what you’ve learned becomes deeper
  • Exercise – getting on a bike, taking a walk, lifting weights – some form of exercise – is good not only for your gut, but for your gut instinct, too
  • Act metaphorically – researchers wondered if acting out the ideas in common metaphors like “thinking outside the box” and “putting two and two together” would make people more creative. They were right – so consider getting out of your box (office) to free up your mind?
  • Read about how smart you are – nerve cells in our brains make stronger connections after we learn something new. Think and learn about your capacity to be smarter – and you just may be
  • “Me” time – spending time engaged in activities you really like enhances innovative thinking

The literal presence of mind that comes when you clear your brain of all expectations is what usually precedes a flash of insight. That flash gives you the power to come up with and act on an idea.

Go ahead – take a walk…

courtesy manhattanportage.com

courtesy manhattanportage.com

…your boss can thank you later!

 

inspired by Red Thread Thinking, by Debra Kaye

Red Thread Thinking

Do You Have 3D Guest Experience Vision?

On a recent trip to the theater while wandering around the lobby prior to the movie, and during the previews, there were several references to upcoming 3D movies.

I was reminded of the recent 3D movies I had seen, as well as the 3D magic I experienced in Mickey’s PhilharMagic while on a recent field trip to the Magic Kingdom. 3D movies use the latest technology to show a film in 3 dimensions, giving a richness and depth to the movie.

courtesy orlandosentinel.com

courtesy orlandosentinel.com

Of course when I think of Disney my first thoughts are Guest Experiences, and it didn’t take me long to put the two trains of thought together:

Do you have a 3D Guest Experience at your church?

These 3 dimensions are not length, width, and depth, but 3 representations of time: past, present, and future. A wise Guest Experience leader recognizes the importance of all three:

  • Past is history
  • Present is reality
  • Future is opportunity

History – Every past success and failure in your Guest Experience can be a source of information and wisdom – if you allow it to be. The wise Guest Experience leader learns both from success and failure. Don’t be satisfied with your successes, and don’t be dismayed by your failures. History is important: it is not a rock to hold on to, but a bridge to the future.

Reality – No matter what a Guest Experience leader learns from the past, it will never tell you all you need to know for the present. The wise Guest Services leader is constantly gathering information from many sources about what’s going on in the here and now – because that’s where we are at. They ask others on their team, they talk with their peers; they look to other leaders for insight. Wise Guest Experience leaders also become students of the Guests they are seeking to minister to.

Opportunity – Wise Guest Experience leaders see tomorrow before it arrives. They have a vision for a preferable future, they understand what it will take to get there, they know who they will need to be on the team to be successful, and they recognize obstacles long before they become apparent to others.

Most 3D movies require the viewer to wear special glasses but even then the view was only an illusion of multiple dimensions.

Wise Guest Experience leaders will understand the three dimensions of past, present, and future, and realize they are not an illusion, but a powerful force that will help them lead their Guest Experience Teams with real depth and dimension.

Lead your Guest Experience Teams with 3D vision, and you will exceed your Guest’s expectations every time.

>> Want to learn how to improve the Guest Experience for your church? Fill out this form and I will contact you.

They Made It – We Borrow It

There is no such thing as a truly original idea. – David Kord Murray

Great thinkers throughout history have understood this and used it to their advantage.

courtesy ledenergy.ca

courtesy ledenergy.ca

Connecting to and building on other people’s ideas and insights can compensate you better than the exclusivity of building something from scratch. Why try to come up with an original idea when someone else has already done the hard work for you? All great innovators cast a wide net to incite creative thought by looking beyond their category and into analogous organizations around the world.

Good ideas are everywhere, but only you can make them relevant to your world.

Debra Kaye, author of Red Thread Thinking, calls this process World Mining. She encourages us to mine deeply to:

  • Seek external inspiration internationally from other companies’ successes, from outside experts, and from creative consumers
  • Identify valued benefits delivered by analogous categories that speak to potential brand promises, brand characteristics, or product experience
  • Review innovative products that are changing competitive landscapes in other categories
  • Assess new technology as a basis for interest

David Kord Murray espouses a similar train of thought in his book Borrowing Brilliance. It will challenge you as it examines the evolution of a creative idea. It also offers practical advice, taking the reader step-by-step through Murray’s unique thought process. Here are the six steps:

  • Defining – define the problem you’re trying to solve
  • Borrowing – Borrow ideas from places with a similar problem
  • Combining – Connect and combine these borrowed ideas
  • Incubating – Allow the combinations to incubate into a solution
  • Judging – Identify the strength and weakness of the solution
  • Enhancing – Eliminate the weak points while enhancing the strong ones

Read a quick summary of the six steps here. You can also get more information here.

Any pool of ideas or existing assets, no matter how divergent from your own organization, can unlock new and even revolutionary areas of discovery and innovation.

The key to finding and borrowing rich resources is becoming attuned to the environment and seeing beyond what’s in front of you, whether you’re just an engaged consumer or looking at other cultures.

Set yourself on the lookout for threads and connections when you observe your surroundings, ask yourself questions, and free your mind.

Somebody probably made it first – it’s up to you to make it better.

inspired by 

Red Thread Thinking, by Debra Kay with Karen Kelly

Borrowing Brilliance, by David Kord Murray

Red Thread ThinkingBorrowing Brilliance

I’ve Got the Power

The range of ways people exercise and respond to power can be complicated.

I'veGotthePower

Think of power in this case as the ability to exercise influence.

Power is not intrinsically good or bad. We ascribe meaning to power and make choices about how we will use it or react to its use by others. Ultimately, power is a responsibility, and it exists as a function of the individual, one’s followers, and the situation at hand.

Nicole Lipkin is a corporate psychologist who has spent her career diagnosing and resolving typical and troublesome leadership dilemmas. Her book, What Keeps Leaders Up at Night? examines the underlying psychology that plays a big role behind those dilemmas.

One of those dilemmas, for instance, is understanding why people don’t buy-in to your thoughts, ideas, or proposals.

It’s all about power.

7 Distinct Types of Power

  • Legitimate Power – arising from one’s title or position in the pecking order and how other perceive that title or position. Those with legitimate power can easily influence other because they already possess a position of power.
  • Coercive Power – using threat and force to influence others. This power comes from fear, and failure to comply will lead to punishment.
  • Expert Power – derived directly from a person’s skills or expertise or from perceived skills or expertise. Expert power is knowledge-based.
  • Informational Power – possessing needed or wanted information. People with high informational power wield influence because they control access.
  • Reward Power – motivating people to respond in order to win raises, promotions, and awards.
  • Referent Power – dependent on personal traits and values such as honesty, integrity, and trustworthiness. People with high referent power can highly influence anyone who admires and respects them.
  • Connection Power – creating influence by proxy. People employing this power build important coalitions with others.

These seven types of power generally fall into one of two categories: Formal Power (legitimate, coercive, and reward) and Informal Power (referent, expert, informational, and connection). As a leader, you may be use most, if not all, of these types of power during a typical day.

But when it comes to influencing people without creating potentially negative side effects, referent, expert, informational, and legitimate power seem to work best.

Coercive, connection, and reward power require more careful application because they rely on a higher degree of trust and risk and therefore can become easily manipulative.

You’ve got the power…

…don’t blow it.

inspired by What Keeps Leaders Up at Night, by Nicole Lipkin

What Keeps Leaders Up at Night

Don’t Let a Steep Learning Curve Become a Cliff

A learning curve is a graphical representation of the increase of learning (vertical axis) with experience (horizontal axis).

LearningCurve1

When we encounter a “steep learning curve” we face an uphill struggle to learn new ideas, practices, systems, etc. The goal is survival and ultimately, to be at a better place at some point in the future.

You know – the best in the world.

Anyone who is going to hire you, buy from you, recommend you, vote for you, or do what you want them to do is going to wonder if you’re the best choice. –Seth Godin

If you’re not going to put in the best effort, why bother?

Your learning curve should always be up and to the right – if it’s not, you’ve come to the edge of a cliff…

LearningCurve2

…now what?