Follow These Five Steps to Deliver a Great Guest Experience

First impressions of your campus and facility last.

First impressions are automatic – taken in and recorded by our senses, often registered for later recall. More often than not, they make an immediate impact on our decision to participate and to return – or not. We may not agree with it or not, but the consumer mentality of the world we live in has moved full force into our church world. Our churches don’t compete with the “world” so much as the experiences of the world.

As you live your life day in and out, you are living the life of a consumer.

  • Where do you consume?
  • Where do you shop?
  • Who provides service for you?
  • Most importantly, why?

You may stop at your favorite coffee shop for a good cup of coffee – and the conversations you have with the barista and the other regulars in the shop. Your supermarket always has good value and a wide selection of the food your family likes. Clothes from a particular shop just fit better – and the sales associates are always helpful with suggestions. The point is, you have established expectations of each place and the people who work there.

Is it any different for Guests and attendees at your church?

If your goal is to create a space and an experience that will positively impact people, you must first plan and evaluate it from the perspective of its quality. You start that process by examining the daily places and routines in the offices, retail, and recreation spaces of the people you are trying to reach. The homes they live in, the offices they work in and the stores they shop in all communicate a level of expectation they have for their space.

Close your eyes for a moment and think about the last time you truly had a great experience with a company as a consumer, an experience that captured your heart, soul, mind, and spirit. What about it was special? Call it “X” – that “je ne sais quoi” that makes something so special.

Here’s another unique retail establishments that are game changers in the customer experience world.

But what do these organizations – and others who are providing exceptional customer services – have to do with your church’s Guest Experience?

I happen to think they are a timeless reminder that experience still matters.


Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is a beloved deli with some of the most loyal clientele around. It has been praised for its products and service in media outlets far and wide, including the New York Times, Men’s Journal, Inc. Magazine, Esquire, Atlantic Monthly, USA Today, and Fast Company. And what started out as a small deli has grown to a flourishing restaurant, catering service, bakery, mail-order operation, creamery, and training business.

Booming business and loyal customers are proof enough that the Zingerman’s team knows a thing or two about customer service. Now in Zingerman’s Guide to Giving Great Service, co-founder Ari Weinzweig shares the unique Zingerman method of treating customers, giving the reader step-by-step instructions on what to teach staff, how to train them, how to implement the training, how to measure their success, and finally, how to reward performance.


Seemingly small things like going the extra mile, remembering customer’s names, noticing a nice order and saying “thanks,” taking time to show a new customer around our place of business – those individual acts are still the things that make great service a reality.

Great service is still given – and will always be given – one customer at a time. They come in, are engaged, and are won over one by one.

In terms of translating what we’ve believed from the beginning into a model that genuinely works in the real world, there are five major parts to what we do. While many organizations do one part or the other, my belief is that all great service providers do all five well.

We Teach It

Without effective training, great service is just one more good idea that never really happens. We’re relentless about our service training. When someone finishes our training, they actually know what we expect with regard to service. And – through our classes, seminars, and training materials – we’ve given them a series of very tangible tools with which to make it happen. The more we teach it, the more effectively we can – and do – live it.

We Define It

Treating service as a generic, if desirable, concept isn’t going to help anyone improve the quality of their work. What helps is that we’ve given a clear definition of service – what we refer to as a “recipe” – that works.

We Live It

At the end of the day, this is what really counts. I think that what sets us apart is that after defining it and teaching it, we actually devote enormous energy to walking our talk. Mind you, we never get it perfect. But we constantly work at it, perfecting the alignment between the way we teach it, the way we define it, and the way we live it.

We Measure It

Service measurement provides the service world with the same sort of helpful data that financial statements provide you with for your money. Quite simply, measurement gives us a scorecard for service, a commonly shared language about how we’re doing, where we’re succeeding and where we’re falling short.

We Reward It

It’s imperative that we effectively recognize and reward those in our organizations who go out and give great service. Both formal and informal reward systems will go a long way toward helping to build the service-oriented culture and the effective service delivery we’re so committed to.

Ari Weinzweig, Zingerman’s Guide to Giving Great Service


Using the five ideas listed above, convene a team brainstorming session. Write each of the five ideas at the top of a chart tablet, one idea per chart tablet.

With a blue marker, list as many activities as you can that you and your teams are currently doing with that idea. Repeat for each of the five ideas.

With a green marker, list as many activities as you can that you and your teams would like to do with that idea. Repeat for each of the five ideas.

On each of the five chart tablets in blue (current), circle the top three actions that you can make better. Assign a champion to each, and ask them to develop a timeline for implementation.

On each of the five chart tablets in green (future), circle the top three actions that you would like to begin. Assign a champion to each, and ask them to develop a timeline for implementation.

Ask for monthly updates in each of the areas being worked on.

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 “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here<<