Do Your Guest Experience Teams Understand the Power of a Smile?

What might be going through the minds of your Guests as they walk from the parking lot and into the worship environment of your church for the first time?

Are they nervous? Have they been on campus before? Is it obvious where to enter the building and which door leads into the sanctuary? Are they having a tough morning? Do they see anyone else? Did they have trouble finding a parking spot? Is God about to do something HUGE in their life?

Think of the last three experiences you had as a customer in a non-church environment – how did it go?

Probably not very well, according to studies done by Experience International.

Could it be the teams delivering the experience were only serving to their expectations?

Could something as simple – but powerful – as a smile change your Guest Experience?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Wonderful World of Customer Service at Disney, by J. Jeff Kober

Now in its 2nd edition, The Wonderful World of Customer Service at Disney brings forward new ideas–past and present–for how to take customer service in your organization to a whole new level.

See it from the eyes of J. Jeff Kober, a foremost leader in the best business practices of not only Disney, but some of some of the top world-class organizations. You’ll see concepts not only implemented by Walt Disney himself, but by the dreamers and doers of today–creating high-tech, high-touch experiences for new generations of guests. It will leave you thinking differently about how to approach customer service in your own setting.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

The smile is the universal language of hospitality and service. When guests see a genuine smile as they approach, they recognize and appreciate your team’s warmth and sincerity.

Smiling is one of the best ways to create a positive first impression, as a smile is visible across distances, even before you have a chance to greet guests with words. Your body language begins with a smile, and what better way to convey to people that you are friendly and glad to see them.

The greatest symbol of traditional customer service is a smile.

Why smile? A large body of work has been done on why smiling matters. A casual look on the Internet reveals the following about a genuine smile:

  • Makes us more attractive
  • Helps us to change our mood
  • Provides us greater attention/ notice from others around us
  • Boosts our immune system and overall health
  • Utilizes less facial/ neck muscles— approximately 16 facial for smiling and some 43 for frowning
  • Lowers the blood pressure
  • Helps make people more successful in the long run
  • Helps us stay more positive
  • Releases endorphins that act as natural painkillers
  • Boosts levels of serotonin, which regulates our moods, sleep, sexuality, and appetite
  • Acts as a natural painkiller
  • Makes us look younger
  • Helps pave our mental attitude toward a better future
  • Releases a warmer vocal tone
  • Becomes contagious with others
  • Relieves our stress
  • Makes others more comfortable in our presence
  • Triggers certain hormones, lowering heart rates, and steadying breathing
  • Helps support our immune systems and fight illness
  • Helps us to live longer
  • Becomes contagious
  • Eases the tension in an embarrassing moment

If you want your team to smile, then you need to think about what it takes. A genuine smile represents what is foundational in an authentic display of courtesy.

Jeff Kober, The Wonderful World of Customer Service at Disney

A NEXT STEP

As noted in the quote above, the power of a simple smile to change the attitude of both the person smiling and the person being smiled at is huge. Consider working through the following actions with your hospitality team leaders, and encouraging them to do the same with their team members on a regular basis.

When first meeting a guest, be personable and friendly. Welcome them with a genuine smile, eye contact, and a warm greeting. Rehearse this with your team and consider having a warm up for teams that have contact with guests. Consider it your “engagement calisthenics.”

Before you start your day serving, take a moment in your team huddle and give each other a big smile – just in case you forgot what it looks like, Next, try a frown, next anger, next confusion, and finally apathy. It is important for you to see what guests might see every day – and how it looks on you!

Put a physical and emotional smile on your face the first 30 minutes of every day. Your mind is a neutral instrument; it cannot differentiate between real and imagined. To physically smile and dwell on the positives of work and guests for 30 minutes will change your frame of mind, your outlook, and your mood.

Put a smile in your voice each time you greet someone. It will inject your personality into your voice as well as present a friendly attitude to those people you are greeting. Be sure to give permission to team members to comment quietly if your smile and voice inflection diminish.


Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix #46-3, 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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Establish High Expectations for Your Guest Experience Teams

What might be going through the minds of your Guests as they walk from the parking lot and into the worship environment of your church for the first time?

Are they nervous? Have they been on campus before? Is it obvious where to enter the building and which door leads into the sanctuary? Are they having a tough morning? Do they see anyone else? Did they have trouble finding a parking spot? Is God about to do something HUGE in their life?

Think of the last three experiences you had as a customer in a non-church environment – how did it go?

Probably not very well, according to studies done by Experience International.

Could it be the teams delivering the experience were only serving to their expectations?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Experience, by Bruce Loeffler and Brian Church

Bring Disney-level customer experience to your organization with insider guidance.

The Experience is a unique guide to mastering the art of customer service and service relationships, based on the principles employed at the renowned leader in customer experience – the Walt Disney Company. Co-Author Bruce Loeffler spent ten years at Disney World overseeing service excellence, and has partnered with Brian T. Church in this book, to show you how to bring that same level of care and value to your own organization.

Based on the I. C.A.R.E. model, the five principles of Impression, Connection, Attitude, Response, and Exceptionals give you a solid framework upon which to raise the level of your Guest experience. You will learn how to identify your welcoming systems issues and what level of Experience you are currently offering.You can then determine exactly what the “Guest Experience” should be for your organization, and the changes required to make it happen.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

In a recent study of 500 organizations, Brian Church, co-founder of Experience International, polled the organizations

…with regards to Experience they provide, both externally (for their customers and clients) and internally (for their employees.)The results were compiled into a hierarchy of the experience called the Five Levels of the Experience and ranging from exceptional down to toxic.The results were staggering. Only 3% of organizations scored on an Exceptional level and roughly 60% of all organizations scored either average or toxic.

Ask yourself this question, what exactly happened to service excellence in America? What happened to creating relational experiences for the customer interface and interaction?There are many companies that still strive to create an exceptional experience, but by and in large, the bulk of American companies are subpar when it comes to the level of service and relational excellence they provide.

This same trend can be found in churches when it comes to welcoming our Guests to our church campuses.

What can churches do in order to provide more than just “good” or “average” levels of Guest experiences?

With regard to the overall experience created by your organization, it is incumbent upon every employee, manager, and executive to (1) know where they stand, (2) know where they want to be, and (3) have a plan and a process to help them improve.

I C.A.R.E Principles

I – Impression:The lasting imprint made through first and ongoing relational inflection points; the catalyst to building a relationship.The Impression that you provide before a guest interacts with your company all the way until their interaction is complete matters; it is the catalyst to building and maintaining that relationship.

C – Connection:The pivot point between contact and relationship. Converting clients
and customers from consumers to Ambassadors (those on a mission to tell the world specifically about you) hinges on the ability to create the cerebral, emotional and personal connection.

A – Attitude: The filter for everything you think, say and ultimately do. Attitude is the lens in which you see the world and the outward expression of inward feelings.

R – Response: Service is about personal responsibility and responding as opposed to reacting.The hallmark of customer service and an exceptional experience is the response. If the response time, tone and talent do not match up with every other aspect of an exceptional experience, everything else is rendered useless.

E – Exceptionals: The secret behind the experience is the relational expertise and execution that comes from the people in charge of delivering it.The management team and employees must be prepared and empowered to have the Experience living and breathing.

Bruce Loeffler and Brian Church, The Experience 

A NEXT STEP

Here’s a short example of how you can use the information found in The Experience at your church.

I-Impression – To the Guest, your Guest ExperienceTeams are the church – at least the first face of the church. It is your job to initiate and create a positive first Impression with each Guest you encounter.

Based on this principle, IMPRESSION, here are some developed actions that become a baseline standard for your Welcoming Team.

Use the following actions as an example for your hospitality teams:

• When first meeting a Guest, be personable and friendly. Welcome them with a genuine smile, eye contact, and a warm greeting. Rehearse this with your team and consider having a warm- up for teams that have contact with Guests. Consider it your “engagement calisthenics.”

• Before you start your day serving, take a moment in your team huddle and give each other
a big smile – just in case you forgot what it looks like, Next, try a frown, next anger, next confusion, and finally apathy. It is important for you to see what Guests might see every day – and how it looks on you!

• Look Guests directly in the eye. The more genuine your warmth is, the more it reflects in your eyes as a smile. When you look Guests in the eye, it demonstrates confidence in yourself and a primary reason to trust you. Start with your team, building the eye contact habit – and watch the level of how people Experience you increase.

Gather your welcome or hospitality team to review all five principles of the I. C.A.R.E. model and do the following:

1. Make application to the local church as modeled above for IMPRESSION

2. Develop three actions for the teams from each principle.

3. Practice for a few weeks, and then review your 15 actions making improvements or adjustments where necessary.

Share stories and note the difference in your Guest’s experience before and after implementing these expectations.


Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix #20-2, published August 2015.


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.

Less is Almost Always More, Even When We Ask for More

The bread aisle at the grocery store confounds me.

courtesy Mike Mozart, CC jeepersmedia/15026803517

courtesy Mike Mozart, CC jeepersmedia/15026803517

I just wanted to buy a loaf of bread to make a sandwich – I didn’t really want to wade through 7 long shelves of every imaginable type of bread possible.

My grocery store is just like your grocery store: when you stand in any aisle in any retail store in the U.S., you will be inundated with choices. Whether you are buying cereal, candy, TVs, or jeans, you’ll likely have huge number of items to choose from. Whether it’s a retail store or a Web site, if you ask people if they’d prefer to choose from a few alternatives or have lots of choices, most people will say they want lots of choices.

This is true in ChurchWorld, too.

Too Many Choices Paralyze the Thought Process

The book Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar details research on choice. In graduate school, Iyengar conducted what is now known as the “jam” study. She decided to test the theory that people who have too many choices will not choose at all. In a booth set up in a busy grocery store, Iyengar and her associates posed as store employees. They alternated the selection on the table: half the time there were 6 choices of fruit jam and half the time there were 24 jars of jam.

When there were 24 jars of jam, 60 percent of the people coming by would stop and taste. When there were only 6 jars of jam only 40 percent of the people would stop and taste. More choices were better – right?

courtesy Chris Martino, CC chrismar/4596518235

courtesy Chris Martino, CC chrismar/4596518235

Not exactly.

You might think that people would taste more jam when the table had 24 varieties – but they didn’t. People stopped at the table, but they only tasted a few varieties whether there were 6 or 24 choice available.

People can only remember 3 or 4 things at a time; likewise, they can decide from among only 3 or 4 things at a time.

The most interesting part of Iyengar’s study is that 31 percent of the people who stopped at the table with 6 jars actually made a purchase. But only 3 percent of the people who stopped at the table with 24 jars actually mad a purchase.

More people may have stopped by, but less people purchased.

The study may have proved that less is more, but why do people always want more choices?

Information is addictive.

Dopamine, a chemical created and released in our brains, is critical in all sorts of brain functions: thinking, moving, sleeping, mood, attention, motivation, seeking, and reward. Dopamine also causes you to want, desire, seek out, and search. Dopamine makes you curious about ideas and fuels your search for more information. A fascinating topic, but it will have to wait for later!

It’s only when people are confident in their decisions that they stop seeking more information.

Application for ChurchWorld Leaders

  • Resist the impulse to provide large number of choices
  • If you ask people how many options they want, the will almost always say “a lot” or “give me all the options.” If you ask, be prepared to deviate from what they ask for
  • If possible, limit the number of choices to 3 or 4. If you have to offer more options, try to do so in a progressive way. Have people choose first from 3 or 4 options, and then choose again from that subset.

inspired by and adapted from 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People, by Susan Weinschenk

100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People

A short note about this occasional design series:

ChurchWorld leaders are designers. They create actions, processes, and services that people use to engage in life-changing decisions. Designing without understanding what makes people act the way they do is like exploring a new city without a map: results will be haphazard, confusing, and inefficient. If leaders know a little more about the psychology of design, their audience will benefit from that design.

Where Does Your Guest Experience Start?

When a Guest pulls into your parking lot for your weekend worship experience, do you consider that the beginning of your Guest Experience process?

Elevation Parking 2

I hope not.

How you answer the question asked in the title of this post may very well be one of the most important determining factors of the success of your Guest Experiences.

Your Guest’s Experience with your organization begins well in advance of pulling into your parking lot and finishes long after leaving.

How so?

Consider that many first time Guests to your church “check you out” online in advance of coming. For many, your “digital doorway” is their first impression. How’s that working for you?

Another, less obvious connection is with your physical facility – owned, leased, whatever. Everyone driving buy 24/7 gets a subtle – but sometimes very overt – message about you from your facility. What do your Guests see Monday – Friday? What about the weekend?

Any kind of communication – print, digital, verbal – is also making an impression on your Guests. Are you intentional in your communication? When your Guest arrives, will their experience in reality match up with the expectations created by your communications?

There are other examples, but I think you get the point: your Guest Experience starts long before – and continues well after – you Guest is physically present.

So where does your Guest Experience actually begin?

  • Is it a thought process triggered by events in a Guest’s life (good or bad)? People undergoing life change will often instinctively reach out to the church for comfort or growth opportunities.
  • Is it when your regular attenders verbally ask their friends and neighbors to join them for the new series you’re starting next week?
  •  Is it a more direct contact, like a print piece or other form of marketing that landed in their mailbox, or their inbox?
  • Is it the story your facility tells – one that invites people into a place, expecting something positive and uplifting to occur?
  • Is it when your church is seen out and about in the community, serving others in a visible and noticeable way?

All of the above – and many more you can think of – occur before a Guest physically comes onto your property.

For whatever reason, a Guest is thinking about, or has decided, to come to your place.

For them, the Guest Experience has already begun.

 

Do You Have 3D Guest Experience Vision?

On a recent trip to the theater while wandering around the lobby prior to the movie, and during the previews, there were several references to upcoming 3D movies.

I was reminded of the recent 3D movies I had seen, as well as the 3D magic I experienced in Mickey’s PhilharMagic while on a recent field trip to the Magic Kingdom. 3D movies use the latest technology to show a film in 3 dimensions, giving a richness and depth to the movie.

courtesy orlandosentinel.com

courtesy orlandosentinel.com

Of course when I think of Disney my first thoughts are Guest Experiences, and it didn’t take me long to put the two trains of thought together:

Do you have a 3D Guest Experience at your church?

These 3 dimensions are not length, width, and depth, but 3 representations of time: past, present, and future. A wise Guest Experience leader recognizes the importance of all three:

  • Past is history
  • Present is reality
  • Future is opportunity

History – Every past success and failure in your Guest Experience can be a source of information and wisdom – if you allow it to be. The wise Guest Experience leader learns both from success and failure. Don’t be satisfied with your successes, and don’t be dismayed by your failures. History is important: it is not a rock to hold on to, but a bridge to the future.

Reality – No matter what a Guest Experience leader learns from the past, it will never tell you all you need to know for the present. The wise Guest Services leader is constantly gathering information from many sources about what’s going on in the here and now – because that’s where we are at. They ask others on their team, they talk with their peers; they look to other leaders for insight. Wise Guest Experience leaders also become students of the Guests they are seeking to minister to.

Opportunity – Wise Guest Experience leaders see tomorrow before it arrives. They have a vision for a preferable future, they understand what it will take to get there, they know who they will need to be on the team to be successful, and they recognize obstacles long before they become apparent to others.

Most 3D movies require the viewer to wear special glasses but even then the view was only an illusion of multiple dimensions.

Wise Guest Experience leaders will understand the three dimensions of past, present, and future, and realize they are not an illusion, but a powerful force that will help them lead their Guest Experience Teams with real depth and dimension.

Lead your Guest Experience Teams with 3D vision, and you will exceed your Guest’s expectations every time.

>> Want to learn how to improve the Guest Experience for your church? Fill out this form and I will contact you.

The Elements of Service

The center of attention in a four-star restaurant may be the food, but it’s the service before, during, and after that creates the experience.

Chef Eric Ripert

Chef Eric Ripert

At Le Bernardin in New York City, the service is as much the creation of Executive Chef Eric Ripert as is his exquisite dishes. Along with the restaurant’s founder Maguy Le Coze, Ripert has created the elements of service that keep Le Bernardin at the top of its class.

Hiring – while they prefer staff with a two- or three- star background, they have been known to go with their gut instinct and hire the people they like, those that have the demeanor and willingness to please.

Training – the standard of perseverance and constant training is set at the top and carried throughout the organization. General manager David Mancini and Maitre d’ Ben Chekroun want each hire to know what goes into every other job on the floor. The constant cross-training that goes on enables the entire staff from the captains to the busboys to operate in a seamless, fluid manner.

Knowledge – The level of service expected by customers at Le Bernardin is matched and exceeded by the knowledge the staff constantly pursues. From the technical side (knowing the menu by heart, how each serving is prepared, the correct place settings, etc.) to the human aspect (learning to watch guests for clues, anticipating their needs), the staff is always learning.

Attitude – over the years the atmosphere has become less formal, but Le Bernardin’s staff will provide what you are looking for: to celebrate, to eat, to do business, to entertain the family. Their goal is for you to enjoy the experience and leave happy with a smile.

The Sixth Sense – Chekroun says that the ability to read a guest is the key to providing four-star service. “You can tell if someone is used to a four-star restaurant or it’s their first time. It’s our job to put them at ease no matter the situation. Intuition is very important on the floor – before a guest can ask “Where’s my waiter?” you must be there.”

Teamwork – At Le Bernardin, service is like the proverbial chain – a weak link will compromise the whole thing. Anyone on the chain, from the time you make a reservation till the moment you leave, can ruin the experience. It’s all about functioning as a team; even though the service is broken into sections, that’s merely strategic. The entire team is expected to understand the ebb and flow of the service and step in before needed.

Presentation – The hallmark of the food at Le Bernardin is the exquisite simplicity of the food, which calls for adding the final touch at the table. The sauces for the meal are served at the table, which provides several advantages: warmer service, better flavors, and eye-catching presentations.

Hungry yet?

Okay, let’s step away from the elegance of Le Bernardin and visit your church. Is it too big a jump to imagine that your guest services need to have the same elements of service as a four-star restaurant?

I think not.

In each of the areas above, why don’t you brainstorm how you can deliver four-star hospitality to your guests?

 

photo courtesy Kok Chih, CC

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