6 Essential Guest Experience Disciplines

All organizations routinely perform a set of sound, standard practices that result in a high-quality outcome. It’s true for your church just like any other organization. You don’t get up on Sunday morning and wonder how you will have a sermon that morning – or take care of children, or lead in worship. It’s a part of what your organization is, and does.

Organizations that want to produce a high-quality Guest experience also need to perform a set of sound, standard practices. Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine, in their book Outside In, have developed six high-level disciplines which can be translated into the Guest experience: strategy, Guest understanding, design, measurement, governance, and culture.

These disciplines represent the areas where organizations that are constantly great at Guest experience excel. If you want to deliver a great Guest experience, they are where you need to focus.


On the sixth day of Christmas Guest Experiences, your Guest Experience peers give to you:

6 Essential Guest Experience Disciplines

Strategy – this is your game plan. It’s a set of practices for crafting a Guest experience strategy, aligning it with the organization’s overall attributes and brand attributes, and then sharing that strategy with team members to guide decision-making and prioritization across the organization. The strategy discipline is critical because it provides the blueprint for the experience you design, deliver, manage, and measure.

Guest Understanding – a set of practices that create a consistent shared understanding of who Guests are, what they want and need, and how they perceive the interactions they’re having with your organization today. This discipline includes research practices, analyzing the information you’ve collected, and documenting your findings. Guest Understanding provides a foundational level of insight that guides the rest of the disciplines.

Design – a set of practices that help organizations envision and then implement Guest interactions that meet or exceed Guest needs. Design weeds out bad ideas early and focuses your Guest experience efforts on changes that really matter to Guests.

Measurement – a set of practices that lets organizations quantify Guest experience quality in a consistent manner across the organization, and deliver actionable insights to team members. This discipline is key because it lets organizations understand the current state of the Guest experience they provide, uncover opportunities for improvement, and tract progress over time.

Governance – a set of practices that helps organizations manage Guest experiences in a proactive and disciplined way. This practice is essential because it holds the entire team accountable for their role in the Guest experience ecosystem. These practices range from  leader oversight to day-to-day coaching of frontline team members.

Culture – a set of practices that create a system of shared values and behaviors that focuses the team members on delivering a WOW! Guest experience. These practices include volunteer enlistment, socialization activities, and rewards. This discipline is perhaps the most powerful of all the disciplines because it embeds practices from the other five disciplines into team DNA.

Mastering the six essential disciplines of Guest experience takes time and effort but it’s something that you have to do if you want to succeed in connecting with and developing relationships with your Guests.


If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.

General Eric Shinseki, former Chief of Staff, US Army

inspired by and adapted from Outside In, by Harley Manning & Kerry Bodine

Outside In



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