Does Your Church Expect Guests, or Just Accommodate Visitors?

When it comes to churches, more often than not we accommodate visitors rather than truly expect Guests.

It may be a little thing to you, seeming like mere wordplay, but there is actually a powerful first impression that needs to change if your approach is to accommodate visitors on Sunday rather than to expect to have Guests at your church.

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 memorable Guest experience is to remove the word “visitor” from your vocabulary, never to be used again. Think about it, what kind of person is a visitor at your house, as opposed to a Guest?

It’s a small thing to be sure. But often changing one small word in your church’s vernacular can reflect a substantial mental shift, impacting the entire experience of someone new. One word change can draw someone back the next weekend, and one word can begin to close the proverbial back door of your church.

What would it look like to expect Guests this Sunday?

Guests come to your church, looking for a warm greeting, a smiling face, and an experience carefully crafted to welcome them and point them to Christ. This type of expectation does not require anything phony, manipulative, or in-your-face; just leaders who will welcome them as Guests with the most sincere, energizing, and loving experiences they can.

When it comes to understanding and welcoming Guests, the Disney organization has long been the “gold standard” – the best of the best. Instilled by Walt Disney in 1955 at the opening of Disneyland, expanded over the decades since at locations around the world, and refined today as both an art and a science, the Disney approach to Guest experiences provides a wealth of information that can help your church not just “accommodate visitors,” but to expect Guests.

 

 

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Be Our Guest, by the Disney Institute

Exceeding expectations rather than simply satisfying them is the cornerstone of the Disney approach to customer service. Be Our Guest outlines proven Disney best practices and processes for generating customer loyalty. One visit to a Disney park reveals that their Guest Experience extends beyond the front gates, and into the heart and mind of every employee at every level.

Be Our Guest takes you behind the scenes to help you learn new and creative ways to create and deliver a world-class Guest Experience.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

“Be Our Guest” has been the invitation the Disney organization extends to people long before the song from Beauty and the Beast became a box office hit. It underscores an important element in the Disney vocabulary that customers are not referred to as customers or visitors, but rather as Guests. In the Disney nomenclature, the word “Guest” is capitalized and treated as a formal noun. It takes little effort to extend this line of thinking to your church:

What’s the difference between treating someone like a visitor, and treating someone like a Guest?

The obvious analogy is that we do things differently when we bring Guests into our home. We clean up the house. We dress up. We prepare something special to eat. We host them. We take care of their real needs. We even open the front door for them – every time.

Does your church expect Guests, or just accommodate visitors? How does Guest expectation extend beyond the front doors on a Sunday morning, but even into the office suite on a Thursday afternoon?

Realizing that God is bringing Guests to your church has to be the starting point, the foundation on which all else is built. Exceeding Guest expectations is the standard call to duty for every leader at every level and on every day.

At Disney, every leader at every level and on every day is a part of the Guest Services Team.

Exceeding Guest’s expectations is Disney’s service strategy, and paying attention to every detail is the tactic by which it is accomplished.

Disney’s Quality Service Compass encapsulates the organization-wide model that demonstrates Quality Service. It is the production process through which practical magic is created. In its essence, the compass can be used to create a shared vision of service that aligns the major elements that every organization shares – its people, infrastructure, and processes – in a cohesive, comprehensive effort to deliver that vision.

The Quality Service Compass has four main points centered on our service objective: to exceed Guest expectations.

Guestology – the art and science of knowing customers.

 

Quality Standards – establishing the criteria for actions necessary to accomplish the service strategy, and the measures of Service Quality.

 

Delivery Systems – the systems that deliver service: employees, the setting, and processes.

 

Integration – combining and aligning delivery systems, creating a matrix to troubleshoot problems and benchmark practices.

– Disney Institute, Be Our Guest

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

At your next leadership team meeting, review the four points of Disney’s Quality Service Compass outlined above. Using the introductory questions suggested below, ask, “What is working within our Welcoming Teams?” “What is missing or confused?”

Guestology: Understand your Guest Profile

  • Do you know who your Guests are? Do you collect basic demographic information from Guests? What does a study of the last 12 months of this information reveal about your Guests?
  • Do you collect additional information about your Guests (through a website survey, etc.? Do you know about their attitudes, lifestyles, values, and opinions? What does a study of the last 12 months of this type of information reveal about your Guests?

Integration: Extend your mission to the Guest Services teams

  • How can you extend your church’s mission so that your Guest Services teams understand how their role is in alignment?
  • How is your mission seen through your Guest Services teams by the Guests they serve?

Standards: Define Guest Service

  • Do you have service quality standards that ensure the consistent delivery of Guest services?
  • Do your Guest Services standards reflect the values of your church?
  • Do your Guest Service teams use the standards as filters through which they prioritize the actions that contribute to a memorable Guest Experience?

Delivery: Establish systems that welcome Guests

  • Your Guest Service Team Members are the first and most important part of your Guest Service delivery system. They are the heart and soul of your Guest Experience. How do you select, train and evaluate your team members? What steps have you taken to create and maintain
a culture of hospitality that nurtures your team members and encourages them to deliver a memorable Guest Experience?
  • How does your Environment (the physical and virtual resources of your organization) contribute to the delivery of a memorable Guest Experience? Do you regularly evaluate your setting?
  • Do you have a Process (the various series of operations used to deliver a memorable Guest Experience) that your Guest Service Teams understand and follow? Is this process regularly evaluated and improved as needed?

Finally, lead everyone in the meeting to identify one next step to take in THEIR ministry area or leadership to welcome Guests.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix #20, 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.

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7 Guest Service Guidelines: Old School Disney at Its Best

The Disney organization is perhaps the greatest practitioner of Guest Experiences around today. Books have been written about what the “cast members” at Disney do to make people feel welcome (I know – I’ve read all of them, and own most of them).

A year ago about this time, my wife and I “opened and closed” the Magic Kingdom (we were there from the opening at 8 AM to closing at midnight) including Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party as a part of our 34th wedding anniversary celebration.

Once again, I was amazed at the exceptional attitude of the cast members.

Observing hundreds of Cast Members, dealing with tens of thousands of Guests, there’s only one word to describe their attitude: Magical.

IMG_5090

So I’m sure you won’t mind if we go backstage and back in time at Disney to learn about their 7 Guest Service Guidelines – a list of actions that every Disney team member learns during their orientation.

When Disneyland opened in 1955, Disney was looking for a set of generic behaviors that ensured that cast members knew how to act courteously and respect the individuality of each Guest. Over the first ten years, the four values of Safety, Courtesy, Show, and Efficiency became the foundation from which all succeeding service standards were developed.

During the 1960s, these standards were translated into a set of behavioral actions called Guidelines for Guest Services, which became the centerpiece of training for all Disney cast members. Appropriately enough, the seven guidelines were personalized with the characters from the seven Dwarfs:

 

7 Guest Service Guidelines

courtesy of The Disney Institute

 

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

7 Guidelines for Guest Services

  • Make eye contact and smile
  • Greet and welcome each and every Guest
  • Seek out Guest contact
  • Provide immediate service recovery
  • Display appropriate body language at all times
  • Preserve the “magical” Guest Experience
  • Thank each and every Guest

These seven phrases serve a variety of purposes. First, they define behavior in terms of Guests. They also communicate cast member responsibilities. Finally, they showcase ways to customize service to individual Guests.

Even though these Guidelines don’t exist in this form anymore, my experiences last year reminded me that the spirit of the Guidelines are very much in practice by cast members today.

Your church won’t have tens of thousands of people coming through your doors every day – but the principles Disney uses as a baseline starting point for training its cast members are appropriate in the context of your church.

inspired by and adapted from Be Our Guest, by The Disney Institute

Be Our Guest revised

Be Our Guest – How Disney Exceeds Guest Expectations

Exceeding Guests’ expectations is Disney’s service strategy, and paying attention to every detail is the tactic by which it is accomplished.         – Be Our Guest

All week long my focus has been on books and reading:

What better way to close the week than to combine reading with another passion of mine – Guest Experience – with a summary of Disney’s Be Our Guest.

All organizations are driving toward the same goal – serving the people who purchase or use their products and/or services. Whether they are called clients, customers, constituents, or in Disney-speak, Guests – organizations must satisfy them or risk losing them.

Be Our Guest outlines proven Disney best practices and processes for generating customer loyalty and sound financial results. These principles can help your organization focus its vision and align its people and infrastructure into a cohesive strategy that delivers on the promise of exceptional customer satisfaction.

Want to get a glimpse of the Disney magic? You can download a free book summary of Be Our Guest here.

SUMS_BeOurGuest

Reading this Sums will only whet your appetite, so I encourage you to pick up Be Our Guest at your earliest opportunity – it will make a great New Year’s gift to your organizations’ leadership team!

 

 

Walt Disney – the Father of Guestology

Walt Disney was the originator of the practices that came to be called Guestology. The Disney organization remains the world’s foremost practitioner of the Art & Science of serving their Guests.

Because of that, I’m starting Summer Term II of the 2013 GsD program with Applied Guestology 201, a quick review of some of the leading organizations who deliver exemplary Guest Experiences with application to ChurchWorld. We begin with Walt Disney and move from there to several well-known organizations, wrapping this course up by returning back to the Magic Kingdom.

Walt Disney – the Father of Guestology

courtesy 9hdw.com

courtesy 9hdw.com

In order to understand the magic of Disney’s Guestology, you need to know a little about Walt Disney, and why he cared so much about customer service. When he threw his energies into the creation of Disneyland in the early 1950s, he was totally concentrated on the guest experience. The very idea for Disneyland was born in Saturday trips to amusement parks that Walt Disney made with his two daughters. In those days, amusement parks were disreputable, dirty, and often in poor condition. While watching and waiting on his daughters to finish their rides, he began to watch the other customers and how they reacted to the parks.

A single question drove Disney: How could this experience be improved for the entire family?

Walt’s answer was to create a new kind of amusement park, a “theme” park with an intense focus on the guest experience. With his successful background in animation and movies, and with a studio of brilliant, creative minds to work with, Disney created a “living show.”

With a little bit of the same magic, your organization can do the same.

Be Our Guest” has been the invitation to Disney visitors long before the song from Beauty and the Beast became a box office hit. It underscores an important element in the Disney vocabulary, that customers are not referred to as such, but rather as Guests. In the Disney nomenclature, the word “Guest” is capitalized and treated as a formal noun.

What’s the difference between treating someone like a customer, and treating someone like a Guest?

The obvious analogy is that we do things differently when we bring Guests into our home. We clean up the house. We dress up. We prepare something special to eat. We host them. We take care of their real needs.

Disney expects Guests

This principle has to be the starting point, the foundation on which all else is built. Everything – and I mean everything – is done with the Guest in mind. At Walt Disney World, exceeding Guest expectations is the standard call to duty for all cast members, both those “onstage” and “backstage”.

Quality Service is Disney’s behind-the-scenes name for its customer service processes, and is simply defined as follows:

Quality Service means exceeding your Guests’ expectations by paying attention to every detail of the delivery of your products and services.

That’s it. The magic of Disney’s customer service is paying attention to details. But as you might expect, the simplicity of those few words is lived out daily by tens of thousands of Cast Members performing and interacting with hundreds of thousands of Guests, all delivered with a magical smile.

The WOW! Factor of Exceeding Guest Expectations

  • Superlative face-to-face service
  • Paying close attention to every aspect of the Guest Experience
  • Analyzing that experience from the Guest’s perspective
  • Understanding the needs and wants of the Guest
  • Committing every element of the organization – from the design of the infrastructure to the interaction between Guest and Cast – to the creation of an exceptional experience

Be Our Guest, The Disney Institute

Exceeding Guests’ expectations is Disney’s service strategy, and paying attention to every detail is the tactic by which it is accomplished.

That’s how Disney does customer service. A common purpose generates quality standards. The standards are defined and delivered using three basic systems that every organization shares: its people, its physical assets, and its processes. All three are integrated and aligned to produce the Disney brand of magic.

At Walt Disney World, they expect Guests – and plan to exceed their Guests’ expectations every time. What about you?

Are you expecting Guests?

Application to ChurchWorld

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.

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.

Start with this simple change that conveys a powerful image, one that will be reflected through your church – and you have taken a HUGE step in understanding what Guestology is all about.

Recommended Reading:

(For a complete reading list, see The Essential Guest Experience Library)

Guestology – the art and science of knowing and understanding your guests – is a term originated by Bruce Laval of the Walt Disney Company. The use of GsD is a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgment that organizations that really want to understand and deliver a WOW Guest Experience need to study the best practices and principles in use today, and then adapt them to the context of their own environment.

the GsD (Doctor of Guestology) journey: 2013 Summer Term II

 

Mickey’s Ten Command-ments for the Setting

In yesterday’s post the concept of the “setting” at Disney was introduced. Going a little deeper, from the excellent guest services book Be Our Guest, Disney vice chairman Marty Sklar gave the following list of setting design principles:

  • Know your audience – before creating a setting, obtain a firm understanding of who will be using it
  • Wear your guest’s shoes – never forget the human factor; evaluate your setting from the guest’s perspective by experiencing it as a guest
  • Organize the flow of people and ideas – think of your setting as a story; tell that story in an organized, sequenced way
  • Create a visual magnet – a landmark used to orient and attract guests
  • Communicate with visual literacy – use the common languages of color, shape, and form to communicate through setting
  • Avoid overload – do not bombard guests with information; let them chose the information they want when they want it
  • Tell one story at a time – mixing multiple stories in a singe setting is confusing; create one setting for each big idea
  • Avoid contradictions – every detail and every setting should support and further your organizational identity and mission
  • For every ounce of treatment provide a ton of treat – give your guests the highest value by building an interactive setting that gives them the opportunity to exercise all of their senses
  • Keep it up – never get complacent and always maintain your setting

Around the Disney organization, these principles were known as “Mickey’s Ten Commandments for the Setting.” Whether it was a movie, a book, or a theme park, the Imagineers at Disney know the importance of setting as they told their stories.

What stories are your settings telling?

From Be Our Guest, by The Disney Institute

Everything Matters

All organizations, knowingly or unknowingly, build messages to their customers (Guests) into the settings in which they operate.

Consider these pairs:

  • A luxury car dealership and a used car lot
  • A theme park and a traveling carnival
  • A designer clothing retailer and an outlet store

In each pair, people are buying a similar product – cars, entertainment, and apparel. But in each case, the setting in which they buy these products is communicating a great deal about the quality of the products and services customers can expect, not to mention the price they are willing to pay.

The simple fact is that everything, animate and inanimate, speaks to customers.

The above words come from “Be Our Guest,” the fantastic customer service book published by The Disney Institute. Talk to me very long about Guest Services, and you will hear me talk about Disney – probably several times!

Yesterday it was about Process; today, it’s all about Place.  When you think about a physical setting, it’s appropriate to start at Disney and understand what they call “the magic of setting.”

Setting is the environment in which service is delivered to customers, all of the objects within that environment, and the procedures used to enhance and maintain the service environment and objects.

Components include:

  • Architectural design
  • Landscaping
  • Lighting
  • Color
  • Signage
  • Directional designs on flooring and wall coverings
  • Texture of floor surfaces
  • Focal points and directional signs
  • Internal and external detail
  • Music and ambient noise
  • Smell
  • Touch and tactile experiences
  • Taste

Quite a list, right? Remember that when considering Guest Services…

Everything matters.

From Be Our Guest, by the Disney Institute