12 Days of Christmas Guest Experiences

For all the Connection Pastors, Guest Services Directors, Guest Services team members, and everyone in your church who want to provide a WOW! Guest Experience…

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On the first day of Christmas Guest Experiences…

>> 1 Word that Says it All

On the second day of Christmas Guest Experiences…

>> 2 Feet that Matter in Guest Experiences

On the third day of Christmas Guest Experiences…

>> 3 Actions to Build a Guest Experience Organization with Clarity of Purpose

On the fourth day of Christmas Guest Experiences…

>> 4 Guest Experience Core Competencies

On the fifth day of Christmas Guest Experiences…

>> 5 Expectations of Disney Service

On the sixth day of Christmas Guest Experiences…

>> 6 Disciplines of Guest Experiences

On the seventh day of Christmas Guest Experiences…

>> 7 Guidelines for Guest Services from Disney

On the eighth day of Christmas Guest Experiences…

>> 8 Ways for the Introvert to Serve on a Guest Team

On the ninth day of Christmas Guest Experiences…

>> 9 Principles of Innovative Guest Experiences

On the tenth day of Christmas Guest Experiences…

>> 10 Commandments for Guest Services from Mickey Mouse

On the eleventh day of Christmas Guest Experiences…

>> 11 Reasons to Smile

On the twelfth day of Christmas Guest Experiences…

>> 12 Principles of Guest Experience Leadership

Tonight, Christmas Eve services are a tradition for many churches. Other churches had special worship services or musical events over the past week.

One of the common threads among all of the events is that churches had the opportunity to welcome Guests, regular attenders, members, and family and friends of all these categories.

Your actions and words have a chance to lower defenses to the Gospel, remove barriers to relationships, and establish an expectation that God is with us…

…make them count!

 

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1 Word That Says It All

Here’s a challenge for you: a single word will change your mind-set on this topic.

When it comes to ChurchWorld, more often than not we have visitors.

It may be a little thing to you, just a word, but I think it’s actually a powerful first impression that needs to change.

Do you have Visitor parking? Visitor packets? A Visitor’s Center? Do you welcome your visitors during the worship experience? And on and on…

The first step in creating a WOW! Guest experience is to remove the word visitor from your vocabulary, never to be used again.

It’s a little thing to be sure. But it’s a mindset change that will really impact how you create the rest of the experience at your church.

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

The 1 word that says it all: Guests.

You are expecting Guests this weekend.

Guests come to your place, looking for a warm greeting, a smiling face, and an experience designed to make them feel like, well, Guests. Nothing phony, manipulative, or in-your-face; just welcome them as guests with the most sincere, energizing, and loving experiences you can.

The Disney organization is known for creating a vocabulary designed to support a culture dedicated to Guest service. Other companies have followed Disney’s lead and adopted this term over the years, but they don’t always understand its meaning. When Walt Disney started using the word “Guest” to refer to Disney customers, he did so because he believed their customers were like guests in your home and should be treated as such. That practice is still followed throughout the Disney organization around the world.

Do you treat everyone who comes to your church like guests in your home? Do your team members understand why that’s important?

Can we agree to start with a simple change that conveys a powerful image, one that will be reflected through your church?

No more “visitors” – you have Guests!

Over the past several years, in conversations with hundreds of church leaders on the topic of Guest Experiences, that one word has been like a light bulb being turned on – it’s like “Wow – I get it!”

I hope you get it!

Tomorrow night, many churches will be offering Christmas Eve worship opportunities. Together with services last Sunday, these two time periods will comprise one of the largest attendances of your year. Many of the people who come are family and friends of your members and regular attenders…

Will they be your Guests?

The Most Important 2 Feet in Your Guest Experience

It’s the space between your Guest and your front-line Guest Experience Team member.

The interactions that take place in those 24 inches are rich with expectations – and can also be filled with missed opportunities.

In that space your front-line team members have become the face and voice of your organization.

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On the 2nd day of Christmas Guest Experiences, your Guest Experience peers give to you:

The Most Important 2 Feet in Your Guest Experience

There is an idea-generating and innovation factory that remains untapped in most organizations simply because most leaders do not know how to connect the experiences and insights of their front line to solving Guest problems. – Chris DeRose, Judgment on the Front Line

How they represent themselves, what they do (or don’t do), what they say (or don’t say) – that’s the powerful human “first impression” your Guest is experiencing – and will remember.

How does that make you feel?

inspired by What’s Your Green Goldfish, by Stan Phelps

What's Your Green Goldfish

3 Actions to Build a Guest Experience Organization with Clarity of Purpose

Clarity of purpose regarding customers and how to translate the mission operationally is usually very murky in most corporate organizations.

Jeanne Bliss, twenty-five year veteran of corporate customer focus and founder of CustomerBliss, a customer experience consulting firm, highlights this in her book Chief Customer Officer.

There is not a universal and clear understanding or belief that the customer experience is pivotal to the success of the organization. If there is, the clarity of what the experience should be, what the brand stands for, and the point of differentiation to customers has multiple interpretations throughout the corporate machine. 

Beyond the pie in the sky stuff, people around the building can’t consistently cite the true value the brand brings to customers, the one or two things delivered that clearly make that point and what keeps them on track with what they do.

In order to correct this, Bliss encourages organizations to act in 3 specific ways.

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

3 Actions to Build a Guest Experience Organization with Clarity of Purpose

  1. Establish your priority bookend customer experiences (and always be reliable in them)
  2. Get rid of legacy industry practices that make you look “vanilla”
  3. Hire “memory makers” not just functional experts

Poor alignment across the organization stems from lack of clarity on the customer mission and how that translates to accountability and actions. – Jeanne Bliss

ExperienceBookends

What are the Guest Experience bookends at your organization?

inspired by and adapted from Chief Customer Officer, by Jeanne Bliss

ChiefCustomerOfficer

4 Guest Experience Core Competencies

Last year the Temkin Group published an update to one of their reports defining one of their fundamental frameworks, The Four Customer Experience Core Competencies. This report lays out the building blocks for customer experience success. This topic is so important that they are giving this report away for free – download it here.

Research by leading customer experience consultant Bruce Temkin shows that customer experience is highly correlated with loyalty. While any company can improve portions of its customer experience, it takes more than a few superficial changes to create lasting differentiation.

Organizations that want to become customer experience leaders need to master four customer experience competencies: Purposeful Leadership, Employee Engagement, Compelling Brand Values, and Customer Connectedness. To gauge your progress, actively use Temkin Group’s Customer Experience Competency and Maturity Assessment found in the free download here.

ChurchWorld leaders may not think of the term “loyalty” in relation to their Guests, but it is a very relevant concept.

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

4 Guest Experience Core Competencies

  1. Purposeful Leadership: Operate consistently with a clear set of values.
  2. Employee Engagement: Align employees with the goals of the organization.
  3. Compelling Brand Values: Deliver on your brand promises to customers.
  4. Customer Connectedness: Infuse customer insight across the organization.

Here are some tidbits about each of these competencies, adapted slightly to apply to Guest Experiences in ChurchWorld. Be sure to download the entire report – free!

Purposeful Leadership

Just about every church has vision and mission statements floating around their hallways, website, and print materials. But when it comes to making decisions on a day-to-day basis, these documents are nowhere to be found. They play no role in how the organization is actually run.

Instead, organizations make decisions based on individual goals and objectives, a handful of hard metrics, and by making compromises across conflicting team agendas. And that’s the best case scenario! Usually decisions aren’t coordinated at all. That’s why churches need to (re)introduce a clear purpose for their organization that speaks to why they exist and what sets them apart from 10,000 other churches.

Employee Engagement

Engaged team members (both paid staff and volunteers) are valuable assets. They trigger a “virtuous cycle” driving good Guest experience and superior overall results. Temkin’s research shows that engaged employees try harder, engage Guests, and drive positive results. The essence of this connection can be seen in this quote by Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines:

I never had control, and I never wanted it. If you create an environment where the people truly participate, you don’t need control.

Compelling Brand Values

True brands are more than just marketing slogans—they’re the fabric that aligns all team members with Guests in the pursuit of a common cause. They’re what you believe about your organization. As Howard Shultz, president and CEO of Starbucks, once said:

Customers must recognize that you stand for something.

Customer Connectedness

In most companies, decisions are made with woefully little Guest insight. People often rely on their “gut feel” or outdated anecdotes about Guest needs, desires, and feedback. But any organization that wants to improve its Guest experience needs to embed deep Guest insight in every aspect of its operations.

Interested in measuring your organization’s progress,? Temkin Group created its Customer Experience Competency and Maturity Assessment. You can download a free copy of Temkin’s complete report, including the assessment, here.

How do you measure up?

inspired by and adapted from The Temkin Group, Bruce Temkin

The Temkin Group

5 Expectations of Disney Service

Having spent 5 days during 3 trips to Disney World in the last 18 months, mostly in the Magic Kingdom and behind the scenes, it’s appropriate that I turn to another former Disney cast member, Bruce Loeffler, for some thoughts about Guest Experiences.

Writing in One Minute Service, Loeffler brings his years of experience with Disney and presents a helpful reminder that organizations of any sizes – including churches – can improve their level of Guest services.

Loeffler served in many capacities while at Disney, and it shaped the development of his current company, Enspiron, and the services it provides.

Taking the Guest perspective, Loeffler defined 5 expectations that Guests have. Although they are not taught as such to cast members, he believes they are the five basic ingredients that most Guests want when they visit Disney – and I agree.

I also happen to think they describe the expectations of Guests coming to your church this weekend.

WD Guest quote DI

 

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

The Five Expectations of Disney Service©

  • Excellence – Guests want quality service from you. They want to know your organization strives for excellence and its team members are providing their best effort.
  • Experience – Guests want their visit to be enjoyable and fun. They want to be treated as someone special and to leave with a positive experience.
  • Expediency – Guests want knowledgeable team members who are efficient and able to facilitate their needs with ease and in a timely manner.
  • Enthusiasm – Guests want team members who are out-going, friendly, personable, courteous, and who truly enjoy helping others.
  • Empathy – Guests want team members who can respect and relate to them and will take ownership to resolve problems quickly when they occur.

There is no magic formula for why Disney is so effective. But from my experience, it is successful because Disney creates a model and an image of what excellence should look like; establishes high standards for cast members to aspire to; and then trains each cast member to achieve those expectations.   – Bruce Loeffler

Do you know what your Guests are expecting this weekend?

inspired by and adapted from One Minute Service, by Bruce Loeffler

One Minute Service

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.

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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