Develop Specific Team Training to Produce Engaged and Guest-Focused Leaders

How does Disney develop the world’s most engaged, loyal, and Guest-centric employees, year after year?

The simple explanation for Disney’s success can be attributed to the levels of support and clarity of purpose found in Disney’s employee training.

Training cannot be limited to ‘Here’s what you need to do, now go do it.’ That’s not good enough.Training needs to instill a spirit, a feeling, an emotional connection.Training means creating an environment of thinking and feeling.

– Van France, founder of Disney University

The message from Van France and the many who worked with him is unwavering. Success is predicated on the following:

  • Having a seat at the leadership table
  • Being a valued part of the organizational culture
  • Moving well beyond providing merely short-lived programs
  • Being incessantly creative and willing to try new approaches to keep the message relevant, fresh, and engaging

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Disney Uby Doug Lipp

When it comes to world-class employees, few organizations rival Disney. Famous for their friendliness, knowledge, passion, and superior customer service, Disney’s employees have been fueling the iconic brand’s wild success for more than 50 years.

How has Disney succeeded in maintaining such a powerful workforce for so many years? Why are so many corporations and executives drawn to study how Disney continues to exemplify service and leadership standards?

The Disney University, founded by Van France, trains the supporting cast that helps create the world-famous Disney Magic. Now, for the first time, the secrets of this exemplary institution are revealed. In Disney U, Doug Lipp examines how Van perpetuated Walt Disney’s timeless company values and leadership lessons, creating a training and development dynasty. It contains never-before-told stories from numerous Disney legends. These pioneers share behind-the-scenes success stories of how they helped bring Walt Disney’s dream to life.

To this day, the Disney University continues to turn out some of the most engaged, loyal, and customer-centered employees the business world has ever seen. Using the lessons outlined in Disney U will set your organization on a path of sustained success.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

After Disneyland had been open for seven years, Van realized the 1955 model of orientation and cast member training that had been so successful during Disneyland’s early years was no longer sufficient. He faced a paradox: preserving the past while preparing for the future.

France knew that he needed to identify and preserve the components of orientation and training that had led to such heady success during Disneyland’s first seven years:

  • Friendly environment
  • Creative presentations
  • Useful content

He had to balance these fundamentals while preparing cast members – including managers – for a much more complex future, driven by the following factors:

  • Consistency – everyone must attend the new-hire orientation program
  • Systems – specific on-the-job training must follow the orientation program
  • Continuing education – supervisors and managers needed leadership and communication- skills training

The time was right for Van to build a bridge to the future of training for Disneyland. The time was right for the Disney University.

Even the lowest-tech, bare-boned and budget-challenged training program will get the job done as long as hearts and minds are captured. Training programs reflect organizational values and health.

Despite the resources at their disposal, too many training departments struggle to provide an educational experience that survives beyond the walls of those very classrooms or the pages of their training manuals. And too many training departments fail to get employees’ support of concepts, strategies, guidelines, rules, regulations, ideas and procedures presented during training. To overcome these problems, the heads of organizations and training departments might first address these questions:

  • “Why aren’t the standard operating procedures of our company followed?”
  • “Why is it so hard to sustain the momentum we had during training?”
  • “Does the training team have a seat at the corporate table?”

The content of training programs, the individuals who teach, the employees who attend, and the way employees are supported outside the classroom reveal much about organizational culture. Many organizations would benefit by simply looking at what their training activities (or lack of training activities) are telling them.

1) Is innovation encouraged? To what extent is creative, out-of-the-box thinking fostered, both in the training environment and on the job?

2) Is organizational support found at every level? Are leaders, from C-level executives to front-line supervisors, aligned with the training team? Is their support overt and enthusiastic? Do Operations and Training staff collaborate to ensure effectiveness of content and delivery methods?

3) Is employee education valued and non-negotiable? Or, is training the first thing cut when budgets are tight?

4) Is entertainment incorporated into training and education initiatives? Is training engaging and practical? Are experiential training techniques that have enough “shock value” (simulations, role-plays, exercises) employed to get maximum involvement from all trainees … even the introverts? Entertainment, effectively used, has a place in virtually any training environment; it helps transform theory into action and boring into memorable.

Yes, the Disney University benefits from having iconic mascots such as Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. More important, the Disney University enjoys the Four Essentials outlined above. How many of these Essentials does your training team enjoy?

– Doug Lipp, Disney U

A NEXT STEP

What Are Your Circumstances?

Identify: How do you set the stage for success to ensure sustained enthusiasm for team development?

  • What values in your organization are nonnegotiable? Identify them.
  • Why are those values in place?
  • What benefits do the values provide your organization and team members, even the parking lot greeters?
  • Which values are the strongest? Which are the weakest?

Apply: How are the values of your organization brought to life?

  • How are they communicated to team members? How often? By whom?
  • Does everyone know the values?
  • What happens when these values aren’t upheld? Are there consequences? Exceptions?
  • How can the values be more effectively conveyed throughout your organization?

Training leaders to be Guest-focused has to be an inside-out proposition (starting from your core values) with top-down implementation starting from your senior leadership team. Set aside time in your next team meeting to review your values and craft a next step for including Guest welcoming training as you:

  • Hire new staff;
  • Meet regularly with staff and leadership teams;
  • Recruit new volunteers in each ministry;
  • Welcome members into your church

We have drawn exclusively from the Disney organization to demonstrate how to create a memorable Guest Experience because they are an unquestioned leader in creating an unforgettable first impression. We understand why some organizations may be reluctant to use these concepts, but take a moment to think beyond the Disney organization to focus on the potential impact of the principles suggested above.

Creating a memorable Guest Experience is an important first step in your next first-time Guest returning again, and prayerfully realizing the transformational power of Jesus Christ as a fully-involved member of your church.


Taken from SUMS Remix 20-3, published August 2015


This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders. SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

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Do Your Guest Experience Teams Understand the Power of a Smile?

What might be going through the minds of your Guests as they walk from the parking lot and into the worship environment of your church for the first time?

Are they nervous? Have they been on campus before? Is it obvious where to enter the building and which door leads into the sanctuary? Are they having a tough morning? Do they see anyone else? Did they have trouble finding a parking spot? Is God about to do something HUGE in their life?

Think of the last three experiences you had as a customer in a non-church environment – how did it go?

Probably not very well, according to studies done by Experience International.

Could it be the teams delivering the experience were only serving to their expectations?

Could something as simple – but powerful – as a smile change your Guest Experience?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Wonderful World of Customer Service at Disney, by J. Jeff Kober

Now in its 2nd edition, The Wonderful World of Customer Service at Disney brings forward new ideas–past and present–for how to take customer service in your organization to a whole new level.

See it from the eyes of J. Jeff Kober, a foremost leader in the best business practices of not only Disney, but some of some of the top world-class organizations. You’ll see concepts not only implemented by Walt Disney himself, but by the dreamers and doers of today–creating high-tech, high-touch experiences for new generations of guests. It will leave you thinking differently about how to approach customer service in your own setting.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

The smile is the universal language of hospitality and service. When guests see a genuine smile as they approach, they recognize and appreciate your team’s warmth and sincerity.

Smiling is one of the best ways to create a positive first impression, as a smile is visible across distances, even before you have a chance to greet guests with words. Your body language begins with a smile, and what better way to convey to people that you are friendly and glad to see them.

The greatest symbol of traditional customer service is a smile.

Why smile? A large body of work has been done on why smiling matters. A casual look on the Internet reveals the following about a genuine smile:

  • Makes us more attractive
  • Helps us to change our mood
  • Provides us greater attention/ notice from others around us
  • Boosts our immune system and overall health
  • Utilizes less facial/ neck muscles— approximately 16 facial for smiling and some 43 for frowning
  • Lowers the blood pressure
  • Helps make people more successful in the long run
  • Helps us stay more positive
  • Releases endorphins that act as natural painkillers
  • Boosts levels of serotonin, which regulates our moods, sleep, sexuality, and appetite
  • Acts as a natural painkiller
  • Makes us look younger
  • Helps pave our mental attitude toward a better future
  • Releases a warmer vocal tone
  • Becomes contagious with others
  • Relieves our stress
  • Makes others more comfortable in our presence
  • Triggers certain hormones, lowering heart rates, and steadying breathing
  • Helps support our immune systems and fight illness
  • Helps us to live longer
  • Becomes contagious
  • Eases the tension in an embarrassing moment

If you want your team to smile, then you need to think about what it takes. A genuine smile represents what is foundational in an authentic display of courtesy.

Jeff Kober, The Wonderful World of Customer Service at Disney

A NEXT STEP

As noted in the quote above, the power of a simple smile to change the attitude of both the person smiling and the person being smiled at is huge. Consider working through the following actions with your hospitality team leaders, and encouraging them to do the same with their team members on a regular basis.

When first meeting a guest, be personable and friendly. Welcome them with a genuine smile, eye contact, and a warm greeting. Rehearse this with your team and consider having a warm up for teams that have contact with guests. Consider it your “engagement calisthenics.”

Before you start your day serving, take a moment in your team huddle and give each other a big smile – just in case you forgot what it looks like, Next, try a frown, next anger, next confusion, and finally apathy. It is important for you to see what guests might see every day – and how it looks on you!

Put a physical and emotional smile on your face the first 30 minutes of every day. Your mind is a neutral instrument; it cannot differentiate between real and imagined. To physically smile and dwell on the positives of work and guests for 30 minutes will change your frame of mind, your outlook, and your mood.

Put a smile in your voice each time you greet someone. It will inject your personality into your voice as well as present a friendly attitude to those people you are greeting. Be sure to give permission to team members to comment quietly if your smile and voice inflection diminish.


Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix #46-3, published August 2016.


I’m proud to be a part of the Auxano team, where our 15 years of onsite Guest Perspective Evaluations with over 500 churches form the basis of the Guest Experience Boot Camp. Held on August 29-30 at The Cove Church in Mooresville, NC (Charlotte), the Boot Camp will provide two days of collaborative learning that will help your church develop its front line. Up to five members of your team can attend for an investment of $1,995 for the whole team.

Learn more and register here.


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

Establish High Expectations for Your Guest Experience Teams

What might be going through the minds of your Guests as they walk from the parking lot and into the worship environment of your church for the first time?

Are they nervous? Have they been on campus before? Is it obvious where to enter the building and which door leads into the sanctuary? Are they having a tough morning? Do they see anyone else? Did they have trouble finding a parking spot? Is God about to do something HUGE in their life?

Think of the last three experiences you had as a customer in a non-church environment – how did it go?

Probably not very well, according to studies done by Experience International.

Could it be the teams delivering the experience were only serving to their expectations?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Experience, by Bruce Loeffler and Brian Church

Bring Disney-level customer experience to your organization with insider guidance.

The Experience is a unique guide to mastering the art of customer service and service relationships, based on the principles employed at the renowned leader in customer experience – the Walt Disney Company. Co-Author Bruce Loeffler spent ten years at Disney World overseeing service excellence, and has partnered with Brian T. Church in this book, to show you how to bring that same level of care and value to your own organization.

Based on the I. C.A.R.E. model, the five principles of Impression, Connection, Attitude, Response, and Exceptionals give you a solid framework upon which to raise the level of your Guest experience. You will learn how to identify your welcoming systems issues and what level of Experience you are currently offering.You can then determine exactly what the “Guest Experience” should be for your organization, and the changes required to make it happen.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

In a recent study of 500 organizations, Brian Church, co-founder of Experience International, polled the organizations

…with regards to Experience they provide, both externally (for their customers and clients) and internally (for their employees.)The results were compiled into a hierarchy of the experience called the Five Levels of the Experience and ranging from exceptional down to toxic.The results were staggering. Only 3% of organizations scored on an Exceptional level and roughly 60% of all organizations scored either average or toxic.

Ask yourself this question, what exactly happened to service excellence in America? What happened to creating relational experiences for the customer interface and interaction?There are many companies that still strive to create an exceptional experience, but by and in large, the bulk of American companies are subpar when it comes to the level of service and relational excellence they provide.

This same trend can be found in churches when it comes to welcoming our Guests to our church campuses.

What can churches do in order to provide more than just “good” or “average” levels of Guest experiences?

With regard to the overall experience created by your organization, it is incumbent upon every employee, manager, and executive to (1) know where they stand, (2) know where they want to be, and (3) have a plan and a process to help them improve.

I C.A.R.E Principles

I – Impression:The lasting imprint made through first and ongoing relational inflection points; the catalyst to building a relationship.The Impression that you provide before a guest interacts with your company all the way until their interaction is complete matters; it is the catalyst to building and maintaining that relationship.

C – Connection:The pivot point between contact and relationship. Converting clients
and customers from consumers to Ambassadors (those on a mission to tell the world specifically about you) hinges on the ability to create the cerebral, emotional and personal connection.

A – Attitude: The filter for everything you think, say and ultimately do. Attitude is the lens in which you see the world and the outward expression of inward feelings.

R – Response: Service is about personal responsibility and responding as opposed to reacting.The hallmark of customer service and an exceptional experience is the response. If the response time, tone and talent do not match up with every other aspect of an exceptional experience, everything else is rendered useless.

E – Exceptionals: The secret behind the experience is the relational expertise and execution that comes from the people in charge of delivering it.The management team and employees must be prepared and empowered to have the Experience living and breathing.

Bruce Loeffler and Brian Church, The Experience 

A NEXT STEP

Here’s a short example of how you can use the information found in The Experience at your church.

I-Impression – To the Guest, your Guest ExperienceTeams are the church – at least the first face of the church. It is your job to initiate and create a positive first Impression with each Guest you encounter.

Based on this principle, IMPRESSION, here are some developed actions that become a baseline standard for your Welcoming Team.

Use the following actions as an example for your hospitality teams:

• When first meeting a Guest, be personable and friendly. Welcome them with a genuine smile, eye contact, and a warm greeting. Rehearse this with your team and consider having a warm- up for teams that have contact with Guests. Consider it your “engagement calisthenics.”

• Before you start your day serving, take a moment in your team huddle and give each other
a big smile – just in case you forgot what it looks like, Next, try a frown, next anger, next confusion, and finally apathy. It is important for you to see what Guests might see every day – and how it looks on you!

• Look Guests directly in the eye. The more genuine your warmth is, the more it reflects in your eyes as a smile. When you look Guests in the eye, it demonstrates confidence in yourself and a primary reason to trust you. Start with your team, building the eye contact habit – and watch the level of how people Experience you increase.

Gather your welcome or hospitality team to review all five principles of the I. C.A.R.E. model and do the following:

1. Make application to the local church as modeled above for IMPRESSION

2. Develop three actions for the teams from each principle.

3. Practice for a few weeks, and then review your 15 actions making improvements or adjustments where necessary.

Share stories and note the difference in your Guest’s experience before and after implementing these expectations.


Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix #20-2, published August 2015.


I’m proud to be a part of the Auxano team, where our 15 years of onsite Guest Perspective Evaluations with over 500 churches form the basis of the Guest Experience Boot Camp. Held on August 29-30 at The Cove Church in Mooresville, NC (Charlotte), the Boot Camp will provide two days of collaborative learning that will help your church develop its front line. Up to five members of your team can attend for an investment of $1,995 for the whole team.

Learn more and register here.


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

Create a Compelling Culture of Hospitality

Do your greeters truly welcome, or do they simply open doors and hand out bulletins?

A common picture at many churches this weekend would look something like this: a couple of people – maybe even a literal couple – stand outside the church’s main entrance. Depending on the weather, they may actually be inside the doors. As people approach the door, they open it and give a brief “hello” or “good morning” or some other similar platitude. Across the lobby, at the doors to the sanctuary or auditorium or large gathering room used for worship, the scene is repeated. Only, this time, the doors are usually propped open and an usher is standing there with a stack of bulletins, giving them out as people enter.

After all, isn’t that the purpose of greeters and ushers? Don’t they have a job description that outlines what they do each weekend?

Danny Franks, Connections Pastor at Summit RDU, gives a brief and compelling argument that hospitality teams serve more than just a utilitarian purpose. While acknowledging the importance of system and process, he challenges us to look at the beauty of hospitality:

The beauty of guest services is that it serves as a signpost to the gospel. Our planning and strategizing and vision casting and volunteer recruiting may indeed reduce combustion points and increase efficiency, but that shouldn’t be the reason we do it. Guest services should ultimately point to the kindness of Jesus. Our hospitality should be a catalyst.

What about your church? Your hospitality teams, in whatever form and name you give them, are literally the first face of your church as guests engage your campus and worship environments. What kind of gospel-impression are they making? How are they developed?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – It’s My Pleasure, by Dee Ann Turner

Businesses are built by growing relationships with customers. Culture is created by the stories those relationships tell. Two of the most important differentiators of a business are its talent and its culture. Talent energized by a compelling culture will drive organizational success and provide innovative growth opportunities for both the business and the individual.

Based on her more than thirty years at Chick-fil-A©, most of which have been spent as Vice President, Corporate Talent, Dee Ann Turner shares how Chick-fil-A© has built a devoted talent and fan base that spans generations. It’s My Pleasure tells powerful stories and provides practical applications on how to develop extraordinary talent able to build and/or stimulate a company’s culture.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

The title of the book used in this solution is no stranger to a large, and growing, segment of the U.S. population. Made popular by eager and energetic team members at Chick-fil-A© restaurants, it is their response to a customer saying thank you, or some variation of that phrase.

But underneath that phrase is much more. It not only represents a value established by Chick-fil-A© founder Truett Cathy, it is also instilled as a company value taking many shapes, and most importantly, reflects the culture of Chick-fil-A©.

And it’s a good place to begin taking a look at the culture of your hospitality teams.

Creating a strong, compelling culture requires intentionality and vision.

Culture is the soul of the organization. It is the way we envision, engage, and experience others within an organization. Culture defines the values and behaviors that are acceptable and expected. Culture can be an elusive concept to describe, but at Chick-fil-A, we call it living life together.

It is far easier to create a compelling culture from the beginning than to rebrand a struggling culture later, so it’s an essential beginning to any organization.

To build a compelling culture, your organization must take several steps:

  1. A compelling culture begins with a clear purpose for existing.
  2. A compelling culture must have a challenging mission.
  3. A compelling culture must have core values.
  4. A compelling culture has guiding principles.

It’s never too late to help your team or organization strengthen your culture. Start your strategy with the WHY through defining your purpose. Continue with the WHAT in developing your mission and then focus your efforts day in and day out on the HOW through constant commitment to your core values and guiding principles. With unwavering focus and discipline to the process, you can create a compelling culture for your organization.

Dee Ann Turner, It’s My Pleasure 

A NEXT STEP

The minute you follow instructions, you’re no longer an artist.

– Seth Godin

For our purposes, take the quote above to the next step: There’s an art to connecting with people as a part of a hospitality team. Yes, you have to understand what you do as a greeter or usher, but there is a more important WHY behind those actions.

On separate sheets of a chart tablet, list Dee Ann Turner’s four steps for creating a compelling culture listed above, one per sheet.

During a designated leadership team session set aside just for this exercise, work through each of the steps, listing the comments of your team in response to the steps.

After you have listed them, go back and get a group consensus for each step.

Now, extend these steps to your hospitality teams inserting the phrase “of our hospitality teams” and ranking each of the four steps with a 1 (not present at all) to a 5 (always present).

At the next opportunity, review each of the four steps and their rankings with your hospitality team leaders. First, celebrate those steps your team has identified with a 4 or 5 ranking, and encourage your leaders to share your celebration with their teams.

Next, brainstorm how steps with a 1, 2, or 3 ranking can be moved to a 4 ranking. List the responses, and challenge the leaders to take the top three in each group and work with their teams in moving this ranking up.


Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix #46-2, published August 2016.


I’m proud to be a part of the Auxano team, where our 15 years of onsite Guest Perspective Evaluations with over 500 churches form the basis of the Guest Experience Boot Camp. Held on August 29-30 at The Cove Church in Mooresville, NC (Charlotte), the Boot Camp will provide two days of collaborative learning that will help your church develop its front line. Up to five members of your team can attend for an investment of $1,995 for the whole team.

Learn more and register here.


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

Less is Almost Always More, Even When We Ask for More

The bread aisle at the grocery store confounds me.

courtesy Mike Mozart, CC jeepersmedia/15026803517

courtesy Mike Mozart, CC jeepersmedia/15026803517

I just wanted to buy a loaf of bread to make a sandwich – I didn’t really want to wade through 7 long shelves of every imaginable type of bread possible.

My grocery store is just like your grocery store: when you stand in any aisle in any retail store in the U.S., you will be inundated with choices. Whether you are buying cereal, candy, TVs, or jeans, you’ll likely have huge number of items to choose from. Whether it’s a retail store or a Web site, if you ask people if they’d prefer to choose from a few alternatives or have lots of choices, most people will say they want lots of choices.

This is true in ChurchWorld, too.

Too Many Choices Paralyze the Thought Process

The book Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar details research on choice. In graduate school, Iyengar conducted what is now known as the “jam” study. She decided to test the theory that people who have too many choices will not choose at all. In a booth set up in a busy grocery store, Iyengar and her associates posed as store employees. They alternated the selection on the table: half the time there were 6 choices of fruit jam and half the time there were 24 jars of jam.

When there were 24 jars of jam, 60 percent of the people coming by would stop and taste. When there were only 6 jars of jam only 40 percent of the people would stop and taste. More choices were better – right?

courtesy Chris Martino, CC chrismar/4596518235

courtesy Chris Martino, CC chrismar/4596518235

Not exactly.

You might think that people would taste more jam when the table had 24 varieties – but they didn’t. People stopped at the table, but they only tasted a few varieties whether there were 6 or 24 choice available.

People can only remember 3 or 4 things at a time; likewise, they can decide from among only 3 or 4 things at a time.

The most interesting part of Iyengar’s study is that 31 percent of the people who stopped at the table with 6 jars actually made a purchase. But only 3 percent of the people who stopped at the table with 24 jars actually mad a purchase.

More people may have stopped by, but less people purchased.

The study may have proved that less is more, but why do people always want more choices?

Information is addictive.

Dopamine, a chemical created and released in our brains, is critical in all sorts of brain functions: thinking, moving, sleeping, mood, attention, motivation, seeking, and reward. Dopamine also causes you to want, desire, seek out, and search. Dopamine makes you curious about ideas and fuels your search for more information. A fascinating topic, but it will have to wait for later!

It’s only when people are confident in their decisions that they stop seeking more information.

Application for ChurchWorld Leaders

  • Resist the impulse to provide large number of choices
  • If you ask people how many options they want, the will almost always say “a lot” or “give me all the options.” If you ask, be prepared to deviate from what they ask for
  • If possible, limit the number of choices to 3 or 4. If you have to offer more options, try to do so in a progressive way. Have people choose first from 3 or 4 options, and then choose again from that subset.

inspired by and adapted from 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People, by Susan Weinschenk

100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People

A short note about this occasional design series:

ChurchWorld leaders are designers. They create actions, processes, and services that people use to engage in life-changing decisions. Designing without understanding what makes people act the way they do is like exploring a new city without a map: results will be haphazard, confusing, and inefficient. If leaders know a little more about the psychology of design, their audience will benefit from that design.

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?