The Guiding Principles of Guest Experience, Part 3: Design

How do you build great Guest Experiences?

Great [Guest] Experiences are consistent, captivating, and memorable by design. To achieve this, organizations must seize and retain their Guests’ complete attention by deliberately planning a defined Guest Experience that stimulates Guest senses and deeply engages them emotionally. – Colin Shaw, Revolutionize Your Customer Experience  (modified)

It is relatively easy for a church to provide a great Guest Experience occasionally.  But in order to create a WOW! Guest Experience, it is vital that you do this every time.

The only way to achieve a consistently great Guest Experience is if the experiences are designed.

To design something means that it is deliberate, not an accident or luck. Deliberate is a strong, proactive word. Stop and ask yourself these questions:

  • Is my Guest Experience process deliberate?
  • Did I deliberately set out to create and deliver a WOW! Guest Experience?
  • Is the outcome of the Guest Experience one that I have proactively designed?

From my observation and research in churches of all sizes across the country, in most cases the Guest Experience is not deliberate – it is something that just happens.

If you will reread Colin Shaw’s definition above, you should be able to answer the following questions about your church’s Guest Experiences.

What is the Guest Experience I am trying to deliver? Do you know? Does your team know? If I came onto your campus and asked your team “What is the Guest Experience you are trying to deliver every weekend?” would they be able to tell me? Would I get a consistent answer? Since emotions account for over half of a Guest Experience, a necessary follow-up questions is:

What are the emotions you are trying to evoke? Without considering what emotions you are trying to evoke, your Guest Experience can’t be deliberate.  According to a study done by an Australian consumer psychologist, emotions range from the top end (people are appreciated, happy, contented, delighted, and valued) to a middle range (people are indifferent or emotionless) to the bottom (people are disappointed, frustrated, neglected, annoyed, or insulted). If you are going to evoke top-level emotions, then a third question comes next:

What senses are you going to use to evoke these emotions and how are your going to do this? Human beings take in information through their 5 senses: sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. In our daily lives we use our senses to gather data about he world around us. If a Guest Experience is about the senses that are being stimulated, creating a Great Guest Experience means we define how and when to engage these senses and create a deliberate sensory impact and memory.

Creating a Guest Experience that is defined, deliberate, and designed is a key to delivering a WOW! Guest Experience every time.


This post is part of a journey translating Customer Experience learnings in the corporate world to Guest Experience in ChurchWorld. Material in today’s post was inspired by and adapted from Revolutionize Your Customer Experience by Colin Shaw, founder of Beyond Philosophy.

Revolutionize Your Customer Experience


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