Building an Experience Culture

Design has the power to enrich our lives by engaging our emotions through image, form, texture, color, sound, and smell. The intrinsically human-centered nature of design thinking points to the next step: we can use our empathy and understanding of people to design experiences that create opportunities for active engagement and participation.

– Tim Brown, Change by Design

And the truth of the above quote is delivered to people by people. An exceptional guest experience starts with the front line team that delivers that experience.

Creating an experience culture requires going beyond the generic to design experiences perceived as uniquely tailored to each guest. In order to do that, your front line team has to know something about the guest they are serving. An experience comes to life when it feels personalized and customized.

Do you know who are you serving? Maybe it’s time to create a persona.

Personas are fictional characters, created out of the insights of research you have conducted, that can exemplify certain attributes. Because they make the potentially abstract concept of “guest” very personal and human, personas enhance your ability to build the empathetic understanding of guests that is at the heart of design thinking.

Using the persona concept will allow you to reveal deeper insights into the various kinds of experiences that your guests are having and to help generate innovative ideas about how to improve those experiences.

Here’s a homework assignment for your guest services leadership this weekend:

  • Create 2 or 3 different personas that represent a cross-section of the guests you are trying to reach; make sure they vary in description
  • Brainstorm the way those personas interact with your church, from the time they approach your campus through the time they depart
  • Note each decision point they have to make and each personal interaction they have with your team
  • Chart those on a big whiteboard

What are those fictional personas revealing about a very real experience?


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