The Importance of Clarity in Your Guest Experience

The process of making consommé is one of the most interesting things a chef will do in the beginning of his culinary education. Interesting, because you take a perfectly good stock and add a mixture of egg whites and lean ground beef, which has the effect of looking like a ground beef milk shake.

Consumme

courtesy The Atlantic

That gooey mess is the secret to the final product. As the consommé simmers, the ground beef mixture, known as a raft, floats atop the liquid. During the cooking process, the raft magically draws proteins and other impurities that are found in every stock, leaving the resulting liquid perfectly clear.

How clear? According to the chefs from the Culinary Institute of America, if you can read the date on a dime at the bottom of a gallon of consommé, it’s clear.

The secret to making a good consommé is leaving it alone. Once the raft is in place, all the work is done by the simmering action. Any attempt to stir the consommé will disrupt the clarification process and result in a cloudy consommé.

Properly done, the distinguishing characteristic of a great consommé is its strong flavor and clarity.

Your church’s Guest Experience should have clarity, too.

Completing a 3-part series begun here and continued here, today’s post delivers the final three “secret sauces” from Chip Bell’s book Sprinkles.

 

Alliance

Alliance can be defined as “an association formed for mutual benefit, or a relationship based on an affinity in interests, nature, or qualities.” Guests care when they share, particularly if sharing is invited, not expected. Simplicity and sincerity are important to remember when helping the Guest move toward a position of helping you.

The secret sauce of Alliance reminds us that the partnership between team members and Guests always carries a co-created experience. Guest inclusion begins by being comfortable enough to ask the Guest for assistance. It also means being willing at times to sacrifice a little on efficiency or effectiveness for the commitment gained through participation. How are you involving your Guests in a partnership that creates and delivers an exceptional experience?

Accessible

Accessible can be defined as “able to be reached or entered.” Recent research shows that being easy to do business with trumps every other feature of basic customer service. When a customer feels they can connect with you anytime, even big problems can be reduced to manageable proportions. Make access to stressless service a vital and obvious part of your Guest Experience recipe. After all, “stressed” spelled backwards is “desserts.”

The secret sauce of Accessible is best used by examining your Guest’s experience through their eyes. Often, that involves the conscious effort to see details that we are blind to. When was the last time you took an “empathy walk” in the shoes of your Guests, experiencing exactly what they do?

Adventure

Adventure can be defined as “an unusual or exciting experience or activity.” Is the Guest Experience you provide more like a light or a candle? Lights are important because they provide us with the capacity to see or see better. Candles do they same thing, but with style. If you want a romantic dinner, you don’t just turn on the light.

The secret sauce of Adventure reminds us that a great Guest Experience is light-like, but an innovative Guest Experience is candle-like. People who deliver great Guest Experiences focus on being good at what they do; people who deliver innovative Guest Experiences seek to add imagination to what they do. What could your organization do to make your Guest’s experience unexpectedly unique?

I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief culinary excursion into the 9 Secret Sauces from Chip Bell’s wonderful book Sprinkles. I’ve only briefly touched the surface of the great ideas you will find in it. Want to create a great Guest Experience recipe? Look no further than Sprinkles!

Sprinkles

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Your Guest Experience – Like a Fine Sauce – Only Happens with a Lot of Work

Some of the most flavorful, satisfying, and versatile sauces in the culinary world are an emulsion – but you’ve got to work to make one.

Emulsion

This is an emulsion: an agreement between two unlike elements (butter and water), achieved by heat and motion. If you get it slightly wrong – as when the sauce starts to dry out, destroying the balance between the fat and the liquid – the unlike elements pull apart and break up. When that happens, it takes more work to get the emulsion back to where you want it than it did to get it in the first place.

 As a ChurchWorld leader, you are, in effect, an emulsion.

Both leadership and management are necessary skills to bring your organization forward. While many people separate “leadership” and “management,” they are both necessary.

Leadership involves inspiring, motivating, crafting a vision, setting direction, strategic thinking, and bringing out the best in your people.

Management involves planning, tracking, and measuring – in short, handling all the nuts-and-bolts of day-to-day business operations.

People in positions of responsibility and leadership – like you – need to do both well in order to be successful. This need dramatically intensifies during times of economic uncertainty, shifting internal and external forces, and the constant need to do more with less – like now.

You need to be an “emulsified leader:” building solid skills in both leadership and management AND the ability to switch gracefully between the two.

The skills of an emulsified leader are certainly called for when Guest Experiences are concerned.

Continuing a 3-part series begun here, here are three more “secret sauces” from Chip Bell’s book Sprinkles.

Ambiance

Ambiance can be defined as “the character and atmosphere of a place.” As humans, we are wired to favor symmetry. Our psyche reads dissonance in an experience long before our logical mind comprehends the reason. When you weave all five senses (sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste) together, you can create an experience that yields a story your Guests are eager to spread.

The secret sauce of Ambiance involves integrating all the sensory elements of a Guest Experience so they are congruent around a compelling story, theme, or vision. The secret is attention to minute details because the Guest’s brain can pick up any dissonant signal or symbol. What opportunities would you discover if you looked at your organization’s environment and experience with all five senses in mind?

Adoration

Adoration can be defined as “deep love and respect.” There is no greater gift one can give a Guest than serving them with love. Love is also expressed in how your team members love the organization they represent.

The secret sauce of Adoration comes from ensuring that your front line team members know your organization’s benefits, not just the feature. It comes from investing in your team’s training. What can you do to make your Guests fall in love with the team member and the experience they are receiving?

Allegiance

Allegiance can be defined as “loyalty of an individual to a commitment or cause.” It is created through the small acts of communication and caring that make Guests feel they can trust your team members to serve them well.

The secret sauce of Allegiance is demonstrated when your team members treat Guests like valued neighbors rather than strangers. It grows as a trusting relationship is developed, with a focus on the Guest, not the task at hand. How will your organization deliver an unexpected surprise to Guests, seeking to build trust with them in every encounter?

 

Next Up: Alliance, Accessible, Adventure

Sprinkles

Whipping up 9 Secret Sauces for Over-the-Top Guest Experiences

The best meal imaginable starts with the basics – and the most basic culinary technique is making a stock.

courtesy  caspermoller/2411842951 CC

courtesy caspermoller/2411842951 CC

Even before two of my sons became immersed in the heat of the culinary world (one a kitchen manager for a national chain, the other the chef of a retreat and conference center), I have long had a fascination with everything that goes into making an amazing meal.

When I began researching the culinary world several years ago, the importance of a “stock” to the rest of the meal was made early and often. Generally made of a few simple ingredients, a stock in the hands of a gifted chef can turn into dozens of variations, each becoming something greater than it began.

The creation of tantalizing sauces is often the next step beyond the creation of basic stocks by a chef. But sauces aren’t limited to the kitchen: over the last few years, many different uses of sauce outside the kitchen have appeared: secret sauce, awesome sauce, special sauce, etc.

Chip Bell, author, consultant, and keynote speaker known for his service innovation practices, released a book earlier this year entitled Sprinkles. As you might guess from the title, Bell uses language and examples from the culinary world to focus on providing “that surprise that takes service from great to awesome.”

Like a sauce takes basic ingredients and makes a mouth-watering, memorable meal.

When the book was released, I wrote a review that introduced the heart of the book: Bell’s Nine Secret Sauces. In this post and the following two, I would like to go a little deeper into these sauces and particularly how they can be applied in the setting of Guest Experiences in the church.

Amazement

Amazement can be defined as “a feeling of great surprise or wonder.” When Guests come to your church, they are probably expecting several things, one of which is to be made welcome. Because today’s church Guests live in a consumeristic world, they often expect more than just a normal greeting; anything less is a negative.

The secret sauce of Amazement takes the welcome concept to a whole new level. To differentiate yourself from your competition (which isn’t other churches, by the way), how can you amaze your Guest? What will you say, do, and/or provide that takes away your Guest’s breath, capturing their attention and ruining their appetite for your completion?

Animation

Animation can be defined as “ the state of being full of life or vigor; liveliness.” Guests coming to your church will be frustrated by indifference. They spend enough of their day at work or other places encountering boring, comatose service. Surely it will be different at a church?

The secret sauce of Animation is present when your team members are alive and spirited. They anticipate Guests, eagerly welcome them, and leave the Guest’s energy level higher than they found it. What does your organization do to instill and inspire in your teams so that they are full of life?

Abundance

Abundance can be defined as “a very large quantity of something.” Who isn’t surprised and delighted when receiving a little something “extra”?

The secret sauce of Abundance is demonstrated by the generous attitude your team presents to Guests. Almost magnetic, it attracts Guests because it conveys an unconditional positive regard. How are you developing your teams to go beyond the expected with a generous spirit and attitude?

 

Next Up: Ambiance, Adoration, and Allegiance

Sprinkles

9 Secret Sauces That Will Make Your Guest Experience Unique

Stock…

…the foundation for all classical French cooking.

At the CIA (that’s Culinary Institute of America), you start off a three-year education by learning how to peel vegetables and prepare a basic stock. You don’t do it once – you do it every day during the three-week rotation of the first class. Students move on after the first three weeks, but will continue to use the stock prepared by the next class of new students. Every three weeks, a new rotation of prospective chefs learn how to prepare stock.

A great stock is judged by:

  • Flavor
  • Clarity
  • Color
  • Body
  • Aroma

The perfect stock has what is referred to as a “neutral” flavor. This is a kind way of saying it doesn’t taste like anything you’re used to eating or would want to eat. But you can do a million different things with a great stock because it has the remarkable quality of taking on other flavors without imposing a flavor of its own. It offers its own richness and body anonymously. When you reduce it, it becomes its own sauce starter. You can add roux to stock and create a demi-glace, and with a demi-glace, you can make over a hundred distinct sauces that define classic French cooking.

What’s your stock?

Personally. Organizationally. However you want to define it.

 What’s that basic “thing” you are, have, or do that makes everything else come together to make things happen?

 >> Learn to make a basic stock, and the possibilities become endless.

Chip Bell knows how to make stock too – or as he calls it, the secret sauce of awesome experiences.

Bell, a well-known consultant and trainer to some of the largest countries in the world, has just released his newest book, “Sprinkles.” SprinklesSubtitled Creating Awesome Experiences Through Innovative Service, it delivers a delicious journey to innovative service.

According to Bell, there are nine “secret sauces” that form the basis for a customer experience that is served gourmet style:

  • Amazement
  • Animation
  • Abundance
  • Ambiance
  • Adoration
  • Allegiance
  • Alliance
  • Accessible
  • Adventure

Just like a chef takes a basic sauce and makes it into the foundation of an exquisite meal, your organization can take the “secret sauces” Bell writes about in Sprinkles and deliver a “value-unique” service that creates an unexpected, enchanting experience for those you serve.

Bon Appetite!

The Magic of Performance in Your Church’s Guest Experience

The empowered team member who confidently goes above and beyond for a customer is a practitioner of Performance Magic.

Service magicians use genuine rapport and personal connection with customers to create performances that are magical. Customers receive the product or service they want or need, but they also get that something extra that makes the experience unexpected, unpredictable, and memorable.

Alert to customer’s needs, service magicians read the often-subtle signals being sent. They know how to establish rapport with customers, sometimes mirroring their emotions and listening intently to ascertain the feelings behind the words – and respond in way that acknowledge those feelings.

> Tricks of the Trade

What do service magicians watch for when they aggressively, proactively observe customers?

  • Clothing – What do people’s clothes telegraph about their view of themselves and the world, and their mood and personality?
  • Eye contact – Does the customer meet your eyes? For how long and how frequently?
  • Body language – What is the customer’s body language telling that he’s not saying?
  • Voice characteristics – What can you glean – beyond the words – from this person’s manner of speaking?

The core skill for effective, active listening is getting focused and staying focused. When listening is your goal, make it the priority – do not let anything distract.

Read customers carefully – then test your assumptions before you act on them.

Service magicians take charge of customer encounters, setting the stage and the mood for the magical connection to come. They unobtrusively direct service encounters, setting the mood and making customers comfortable.

Though service magicians make connecting with customers look effortless, it doesn’t come without working at it.

> Tips for Creating Magical Dialogue

  • Establish – and publicize – a clear service philosophy
  • Build proficiency though practice
  • Develop great conversation openers that fit personality and mood
  • Listen, listen, listen
  • End with a satisfied customer wanting more

Performance magic should leave customers pleased with their experience and just a little puzzled at how you managed it. The trick is, there’s no trick at all:

Performance magic is accomplished through careful observation, fanatical listening, and genuine conversation. A disciplined practice of these actions will enable you to identify our customers’ needs before they even have a chance to voice them.

Performance Magic happens when a surprisingly positive interaction occurs between the customer and organizational personnel during the acquisition and delivery of a service or product. Magical performance is the manner that enables a service magician to take customers on an emotional journey so enchanting they cannot wait to tell their story to others.

>> Remember that as a church leader you have “customers” – they are the Guests who come to your place every weekend.

What are you waiting for? It’s time to utilize magical performances in your organization!

 

Adapted from Service Magic by Ron Zemke and Chip Bell

Service Magic

Part of an ongoing, periodic series exploring the translation of customer service in the corporate world to Guest Experiences in ChurchWorld

The Magic of Process in Your Church’s Guest Experiences

Process Magic is at work when an organization – large or small – creates a standard operating procedure that seems just the right thing to do.

Practices, policies, and procedures from initial contact to problem solving that amaze the customer with seeming ease are magical. The service magician who implements those practices with style and grace enhances the experience yet again.

Researchers repeatedly confirm that customers use “consistently good” as their gold standard for service. The customer’s sense of reliability, security, and comfort hang on service promises – real or implied – being kept with a high degree of precision and consistency. That “steadfastness” is so important that most organizations take care that their processes come with rigid standards and stern rules.

Those processes fall into one of two categories: algorithmic or heuristic.

Algorithms are step-by-step processes. Think of them as “rules of law” that focus on precision, replication, exactness, and dependability. There are “Red Rule” algorithms, designed to maximize effectiveness, safety, and predictable outcome. There are also “Blue Rule” algorithms, designed to maximize efficiency and sameness.

Heuristics are “rules of thumb” for doing work. They function more as guidelines for behavior rather than step-by-step specifics. Implicit in the guidance of heuristics is an in-context judgment call.

Using a Little Magic on Blue Rule Algorithms

Algorithmic processes are precise, lockstep means of getting the service the customer expects from the service provider to the customer. Helpful rules for adding magic to “Blue Rule” algorithms include:

  • Select a process the customer must endure and enrich it with a little magic. While some processes are crafted exclusively for the convenience of the service provider, make sure they are as customer friendly as possible by zeroing in on the feature most important to the customer.
  • Don’t alter a part of the process without examining the whole experience. If only a part of the process is enhanced, a bland or negative part left unimproved can erase or negate the enchanting memory for the customer.
  • Include props to reinforce consistency. These could include reminders, checklists, job aids, guides, cueing devices – whatever helps the service magician remain disciplined and focused.

Turning Red Rule Algorithms into Magical Memories

The more challenging arena of service processes is the unalterable algorithmic process. The service magician, unable to alter Red Rule processes, must find ways that will yield a magical experience for customers. Helpful rules for altering Red Rule processes include:

  • Alterations must be delivered in matched tones. By definition, the process can’t be changed, so alterations must be made with the experiences that surround the process. Any surrounding experience must be kept in the same tone, style, and manner of the process itself.
  • Alterations must be subtle. The key is to not tamper with anything that causes the customer to question the core values embedded in the process.
  • The magic can operate alongside the process without upsetting requirements. The “add-on” will be surprising and memorable, but it doesn’t have to interfere with the step-by-step nature of the process.
  • Value adds should be of the same nature as the core offering. Adding value works best when understated and cut from the same cloth as the core offering.

Adding Magic to Heuristic Rules of Thumb

“Rule of thumb” – or heuristic – processes are not lockstep, exact, or precise. They may be guidelines born of the folklore of an industry or conventional wisdom learned only through experience. Several universal principles are important to keep in mind before tinkering with heuristic processes. They include:

  • Never tinker with the customer’s core expectation.  The customer has very real expectations as well as a mental picture. If the magic attempted is too extreme, the customer will remember it as disruptive and artificial
  • Make sure the alteration in the process fits. Service magic enchants because it is unexpected and positive, yet it needs to be appropriate to the context and the relationship.
  • Ensure the alteration is a team effort, not an isolated gesture. The customer knows single-relationship magic when he sees it and knows it is vulnerable to turnover. It does not ensure long-term loyalty

Service processes are not naturally magic. Magic occurs when the process is transformed or contains an unanticipated dimension – the more “sparkly” the transformation, the more magical it is. Magic depends on identifying a process alteration that will be permissible by the customer, and then crafting its expression into a form unexpected by the customer.

Select the right process, alter or enhance it in the right way, and you can turn dull into delightful and mundane into magic.

You are practicing Process Magic by filling the space between “customer need” and “customer need met” with experiences of awe and memories of amazement. Magical processes are the policies, procedures, and routines that make transacting business with an organization easy, positive, and memorable.

Remember, that as a church leader you have “customers” – they are the Guests who come to your place every weekend.

What are you waiting for? It’s time to utilize magical processes in your organization!

Adapted from Service Magic by Ron Zemke and Chip Bell

Service Magic

Part of an ongoing, periodic series exploring the translation of customer service in the corporate world to Guest Experiences in ChurchWorld

The Magic of Place in Your Church’s Guest Experience

The magic of Place has three faces: natural, constructed, and virtual.

> Natural Place Magic is intrinsic to those wonders of the physical world that thrill and awe us by simply existing. It’s the stuff of National Geographic specials that create magic through their natural grandeur. Our primary memories of these places will always be the magic of the natural wonders themselves.  Even so, skillful service magicians can subtly but measurably enhance our experience of Place Magic. A subtle balancing and blending act is the key to creating consistent Place Magic by showing off the main attraction at its best.

> Constructed Place Magic comes in a greater variety than does nature’s Place Magic. While few manmade places are palaces, castles, or world icons, even the most mundane can also be magical. There are hotels and grocery stores and retailers and automobile dealerships and hospitals and dental offices that stand above others and sparkle. People should feel attended to and comfortable in your constructed place.

> Virtual Place Magic demonstrates that place is not always a physical location. Successful organizations must have a presence, a story, and a sense of experience in their virtual world as well as the physical world. The look and feel of your online presence – your digital front door – must reflect the look, feel, and ambiance of your brick and mortar place.  Distinctive and eye-catching design is only beginning of creating a virtual place; you must also build trust and create a unique experience. From the first click, Guests should be drawn in, made curious, and delighted by the virtual place you have created.

Utilizing a Natural Setting

Few organizations will have the benefit of a serene waterfront setting or a majestic mountain view. But everyone has a place that can be enhanced by the following rules:

  • Find your “natural” story – all locations have a story; what’s yours?
  • Educate yourself – steep yourself and your team in the details of your place
  • Create an “elevator” story – what 30 second story can your team tell about your locale and its uniqueness?
  • Dabble in décor – consider enhancing your interior with visual representations of the natural setting
  • Sensory congruence – the smells and sounds need to be in sync with the sights and feel

Creating Illusion, Amazement, and Delight

There is no better contemporary example of building magic into man-made places than the world of the theme park. And there’s no better example of this than Walt Disney, who created an entirely new approach to the concept of entertainment, a business obsessed with the customer point of view, and the precise management of the customer’s experience. With the opening of Disneyland in 1955, Disney developed an obsession for anticipating and controlling every detail that will support – or detract from – his vision. He called it “Imagineering,” and defined it as the blending of creative imagination and technical know-how. It has been best codified by Marty Sklar, the first chairman of Disney Imagineering, in a set of principles dubbed “Mickey’s Ten Commandments.”

  1. Know your audience – before creating a setting, understand who will be visiting your place
  2. Wear your guest’s shoes – evaluate your setting from the customer’s perspective by experiencing it as a customer.
  3. Organize the flow of people and ideas – think of setting as a story and tell the story in a sequenced, organized way.
  4. Create a “wienie” – borrowed from silent film lingo, a wienie is a visual magnet used to orient and attract customers.
  5. Communicate with visual literacy – language is not always composed of words; use the common languages of color, shape, and form to communicate through setting.
  6. Avoid overload by creating turn-ons – do not bombard customers with data; let them choose the information they want when they want it.
  7. Tell one story at a time – create one setting for each idea to avoid confusing customers by mixing multiple stories in a single setting.
  8. Avoid contradictions, maintain identity – every detail and nuance of a setting should support and further the organizational identity and mission.
  9. For every ounce of treatment provide a ton of treat – give your customers the highest value by building an interactive setting that gives them the opportunity to exercise all their senses.
  10. Keep it up – never get complacent and always maintain your setting.

You are practicing Place Magic by creating or enhancing environments that delight, support, and enliven your guests. Magical places are venues with physical attributes that attract and please, subtly enhanced by human endeavor.

Remember that as a church leader, you do have “customers” – they are the Guests who come to your place every weekend.

What are you waiting for? It’s time to create a magical place in your organization!

Adapted from Service Magic by Ron Zemke and Chip Bell

Service Magic

Part of an ongoing, periodic series exploring the translation of customer service in the corporate world to Guest Experiences in ChurchWorld