The Dining Experience…

…at a four-star restaurant provides excellent lessons for hospitality in the church.

With one son who is a chef and kitchen manager for a national restaurant chain and another who just finished four years of culinary school and is working as a line cook in one of Charlotte’s top-rated restaurants, I have a serious interest in all things food. My waistline also shows that, but that’s another story.

One of my favorite genres of books is that of the food industry, especially those that give a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on in the kitchen and dining room.

During a visit to my older son’s house I was perusing his bookshelf and took a look at “On the Line“, about the famous New York restaurant Le Bernardin and Executive Chef Eric Ripert. It’s a well-written and beautifully photographed look at the inner workings of the world-famous restaurant.

It’s also full of great lessons for churches that want to have world-class guest services.

Your church will not be serving exquisite meals that diners pay big bucks for – but your church can learn that the meal is only a part of the total dining experience.

The Dining Experience

One of the things that diners remark upon after eating at Le Bernardin is that the service is almost invisible. By the end of the meal, you’ve been helped by as many as seven people, but you can’t quite identify them. Although friendly and available, they work out of your field of attention so that you can focus on the food, and companions, in front of you.

While it might seem effortless, it’s a rigorous ballet that requires training and focus. The men and women juggle a plethora of details in their heads while projecting an air of gracious calm.

We have to perform to give you an illusion of effortless perfection. For you to have the right food in front of you at the right time, excellent and at the right temperature, and obviously having clean china – all those little details you’d never think of are vital

– Eric Ripert

In an earlier post, I introduced Le Bernardin’s “The List,”  as a way to think about the guest services practices at your church. I hope you’ll join in on the rest of the conversation over the next few days.

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The 6th Discipline of Guest Experiences: Culture

Organizations that want to produce a high-quality Guest experience 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 Guest experiences: strategy, Guest understanding, design, measurement, governance, and culture.

An overview of all six Disciplines can be found here. These disciplines represent the areas where organizations that are consistently great at Guest experiences excel.

If you want to deliver a great Guest Experience, these disciplines are where you need to focus, too.  

Culture 

Now matter how solid your strategy is or how carefully you design your Guest Experience, it’s simply impossible to plan for every single Guest interaction at every last touchpoint. At some point, you need to put your trust in your organization’s most valuable resource – your team members – to do the right thing for Guests.

Building a Guest-centric culture is critical to your success.

How exactly to you get to this level of a Guest-centric culture? First, you overhaul your recruiting practices so that you get Guest-obsessed people on the front lines. Second, you need to socialize the importance of Guest-centricity through storytelling, rituals, and training. Third, you’ve got to reinforce new values and behaviors through informal and formal rewards. Finally, tie it all together with a steady cadence of communication that never lets team members forget why they’re doing all of this in the first place.

Measurement Practices

  • Screen candidates for Guest-centric values as a part of the recruitment process
  • Screen candidates for the specific skills needed to deliver on the organization’s Guest Experience strategy as a part of the recruitment process
  • Provide training to help new and existing team members build and maintain the skills they need to deliver on their part of the organization’s Guest Experience strategy
  • Communicate the importance of Guest Experiences to all team members and partners
  • Collect and share stories of Guest Experience best practices with all team members
  • Perform rituals and routines that reinforce the importance of Guest Experience and what it takes to deliver it
  • Use informal rewards and celebrations to highlight exemplary Guest-centric behavior
  • Connect formal reward structures to performance on Guest Experience metrics

Guest-centric values are the building blocks for reprogramming your organizational DNA. Behaviors are how you turn all of the other practices form the other five disciplines – strategy, Guest understanding, design, measurement, and governance – into habits that your organization just can’t kick.

Application to ChurchWorld

  1. You need to build a Guest-centric culture that pervades your church from bottom to top
  2. Recruit leaders of your hospitality teams for Guest passion and cultural fit
  3. Socialize the key behaviors required to deliver a great experience throughout your organization
  4. Reward team members to reinforce Guest-centric behaviors
  5. Solidify your Guest Experience efforts with constant communication about the “why”

Series Concluding Thought – Mastering these six essential disciplines of Guest Experience takes time and effort but it’s something that you have to do. If you want to succeed at connecting with Guests coming to your campus, you have to decide – right here, right now – to roll up your sleeves and do the work of building competence in these six disciplines. That may scare you – but what should scare you more is the thought of becoming irrelevant to your Guests – which is what will happen if you don’t take action.

To read an overview of the Six Disciplines of Guest Experiences, go here. To begin reading an in-depth review of each of the six, go here.

If you haven’t already, order your personal copy of Outside In right now. This is an excellent guide to developing a Guest Experience ministry in your church – one that you will refer to time and again. Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine have done an amazing job of writing a business text that has immediate and far-reaching implications for your church. Go ahead and gift it to yourself for Christmas this year!

 

Want to know more about the Guest Experience in your church?

  • Learn why the Guest Experience matters here
  • Contact me here
  • Read up a little here

 

The 3rd Discipline of Guest Experiences: Design

Organizations that want to produce a high-quality Guest experience 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 Guest experiences: strategy, Guest understanding, design, measurement, governance, and culture.

An overview of all six Disciplines can be found here. These disciplines represent the areas where organizations that are consistently great at Guest experiences excel.

If you want to deliver a great Guest Experience, these disciplines are where you need to focus, too. 

Design

Design isn’t just choosing the right images and fonts for your next website revision. It’s a problem-solving process that incorporates the needs of Guests, team members, and partners in your mission. It’s a way of working that creates and refines real-world situations.

Design is the secret weapon of organizations that gives them a strategic advantage in figuring out what services their Guests need and in defining the exact characteristics of every Guest interaction. Design helps you understand how a Guest accesses your website, what a Guest is likely to do as they approach your campus, and gives you clues about creating a welcoming environment.

Design is the most important discipline that you’ve probably never heard of.

The human-centered design process starts with research to understand Guest needs and motivations. It’s all those activities in the discipline of Guest Understanding. Analysis is next – synthesizing the data into useful forms. The next phase is ideation, which is just what it sounds like – coming up with ideas. After that, it’s time to prototype – ranging from a simple redesigned Guest survey to a full-scale mock-up of your typical Guest experience on the weekend. Next, these prototypes are put into action with real people while you observe the results. Finally, you must document the features of the resulting product or service that has evolved.

Design Practices

  • Follow a defined Guest Experience design process any time a new experience is introduced or an existing experience is changed in some way
  • Use Guest understanding deliverables and insights to focus and define requirements for projects that affect Guest Experiences
  • Engage Guests, team members, and partners as part of the experience design process
  • Use iterative ideation, prototyping, and evaluation as part of the experience design process
  • Identify the set of complex interdependencies among people, processes, and technologies that shape interactions with Guests (the Guest Experience Ecosystem)

The right Guest Experience changes, implemented the right way, won’t just fall into your lap. You must actively design them. This requires learning – and then sticking to – the steps in a human-centered design process.

I will be happy to discuss Guest Experience initiatives for your church and partner with you to design a WOW! Guest Experience.

Application to ChurchWorld

  1. Guest interactions need to be designed, not left to chance
  2. Design is an activity best done with people, not to them
  3. Prototyping can help keep ideas alive while you create buy-in

Design will stretch your skills and challenge your old ways of working.

Next: How do you know when your design work is having the effects you intended? That’s where the measurement discipline comes in.

Want to know more about the Guest Experience in your church?

  • Learn why the Guest Experience matters here
  • Contact me here
  • Read up a little here

The 1st Discipline of Guest Experiences: Strategy

Organizations that want to produce a high-quality Guest experience 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 Guest experiences: strategy, Guest understanding, design, measurement, governance, and culture.

An overview of all six Disciplines can be found here. These disciplines represent the areas where organizations that are consistently great at Guest experiences excel.

If you want to deliver a great Guest Experience, these disciplines are where you need to focus, too.

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.

Strategy Practices

  • Define a guest experience strategy that describes the intended Guest experience.
  • Align the strategy with overall organization strategy.
  • Align the strategy with the organization’s brand strategy.
  • Share the strategy with all team members (distribute documentation, conduct training sessions, review and evaluate practices).

Great Guest experiences don’t happen by accident. They’re the result of countless deliberate decisions made by every single person in your Guest Experience teams on a daily basis. To align those decisions, team members and partners need a shared vision: a Guest Experience strategy.

Without that vision, team members are forced to set out on a random journey, and their decisions and actions will inevitably be at odds with each other despite all the best intentions.

You have a choice.

You can continue to let your team members wonder what they should do to improve the Guest Experience and flounder as they try to coordinate their own activities with those of other teams.

But the better path is to guide them toward a common vision and facilitate concerted efforts by crafting a Guest Experience strategy that clearly defines the intended experience.

Application to ChurchWorld

  1. Your Guest Experience must support your overall organizational strategy
  2. Your Guest Experience must align with your brand
  3. Your Guest Experience must be specific, clear, and memorable

Tomorrow: How to differentiate your Guest Experience in the minds of those you are trying to reach and impact.

Want to know more about the Guest Experience in your church?

  • Learn why the Guest Experience matters here
  • Contact me here
  • Read up a little here