It All Begins with Hospitality

Church leaders need to understand the fact that our competition is not other churches; it’s places that provide WOW! Experiences and to which guests compare our churches.

While that may seem a negative, it can also be turned into a positive by LEARNING from those top-notch places and their leaders.

Take for instance Danny Meyer, the founder and co-owner of multiple top-rated New York restaurants and author of a book entitled “Setting the Table.” Subtitled “The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business,” Meyer shares the lessons he’s learned while developing the winning recipe for doing the business he calls “enlightened hospitality.” They are lessons that the church can learn from. Here’s a sample:

Hospitality is the foundation of my business philosophy. Virtually nothing else is as important as how one is made to feel in any business transaction. Hospitality exists when you believe the other person is on your side. Hospitality is present when something happens for you. It is absent when something happens to you. Those two prepositions – for and to – express it all.

Understanding the distinction between service and hospitality has been at the foundation of our success. Service is the technical delivery of a product. Hospitality is how the delivery of that product makes it recipient feel. Service is a monologue – we decide how we wan to do thins and set our own standards for service. Hospitality, on the other hand, is a dialogue. To be on a guest’s side requires listening to that person with every sense, and following up with a thoughtful, gracious, appropriate response. It takes both great service and great hospitality to rise to the top.

People duck as a natural reflex when something is hurled at them. Similarly, the excellence reflex is a natural reaction to fix something that isn’t right, or to improve something that could be better. The excellence reflex is rooted in instinct and upbringing, and then constantly honed through awareness, caring, and practice. The overarching concern to do the right thing well is there or it isn’t.

Eleven Madison Park, founded by Danny Meyer

Eleven Madison Park, founded by Danny Meyer

What a great learning environment for churches wanting to improve their Guest Services team!

Last week, I posted a series on hospitality based on Le Bernardin, the famous restaurant in NYC owned by Chef Eric Ripert. If this post resonated with you, click on the links below for more.

Creating experiences of hospitality allow for positive, uplifting outcomes for human experiences and human relationships. They will help you connect to people coming in your door week in and week out.

How will you practice hospitality in your church this weekend?

 

photo courtesy Julian, CC

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Guest Experiences Focus on People

No matter how you look at Guest Experiences in a church setting, the people element is first and foremost.

A person or persons come to your place because they were invited, or just curious, or they are in a crisis in their own lives.

This person or persons encounter people at your place who extend to them a genuine, warm welcome.

Everything in the previous nine posts of this series is important, but in a true “saving the best for last,” people hold the key to Guest Experiences.

>> Your Guests

Creating personas and taking them through your Guest journey map is an important part of creating a WOW! Guest Experience, but never forget that the Guest who comes to your church is a real person with real feelings and emotions. Their perceptions are their reality. The Guest Experience you are creating will be their first impression of your church. It will also be a lasting impression.

>> Your Leaders

WOW! Guest Experiences will be achieved best when a compassionate leader with a passion for creating an extraordinary experience is tasked with leading all Guest experience efforts across the entire organization. The Guest Experience leader is a catalyst who will ignite the various components (people, place, and process) into a unified whole that will strive for consistent delivery of a WOW! Guest experience. The Guest Experience Leader is a 360-degree individual, exerting influence above, around, and below.

>> Your Teams

What kind of person serves on a Guest Services team?

Danny Meyer, founder and co-owner of eleven successful restaurants in New York City, writes the following about his staff:

The idea of someone giving 110 percent is about as realistic as working to achieve the twenty-six hour day. At our restaurants, we are hoping to develop 100 percent employees whose skills are divided 51-49 between emotional hospitality and technical excellence. These are 51 percenters.

A 51 percenter has five core emotional skills. If your team has these skills, you can be champions at the team sport of Guest Experiences. They are:

  • Optimistic warmth – genuine kindness, thoughtfulness, and a sense that the glass is always at least half full
  • Intelligence – not just “smarts”, but rather an insatiable curiosity to learn for the sake of learning
  • Work ethic – a natural tendency to do something as well as it can possibly be done
  • Empathy – an awareness of, care for, and connection to how others feel and how your actions make others feel
  • Self-awareness and integrity – an understanding of what makes you tick and a natural inclination to be accountable for doing the right thing with honesty and superb judgment

Your Guest Experience team members may not operate under the same pressures as the staff in a highly regarded restaurant. But if the CEO of a restaurant recognizes that the human beings who animate his restaurants have far more impact on whether they succeed than the food, the decor, or the location, I would say that is a lesson worth learning – and applying – at your church.

That’s a quick review of the People part of the Guest Experience at your church.

Bottom line: when in doubt, always default to people.

Outside In has been a great source of inspiration for my personal passion of Guest Experiences in ChurchWorld. Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine and the great team at Forrester Research are to be commended for their ongoing excellence in the world of customer experience.

However, this series has just been an introduction to their concepts as translated to ChurchWorld. I plan to revisit the 6 Disciplines of Guest Experiences in depth very soon!

 

Part 10 of a series based on the book Outside In

Outside In

These posts “translate” the world of customer experience to the language and setting of Guest Experiences in the church.