Five Spectacular Ways to Create the Worst Customer Experience(via @jeanniecw) I get it: they’re not customers, they’re guests. But still, how many of these are our churches guilty of?

4. Recruiting the wrong people

Your employees play a huge role in driving your customer experience. If they’re unhappy, unfriendly or just plain bored with their jobs, that will translate into a miserable experience for your customers. Companies like Southwest Airlines and Zappo’s have made it a huge part of their culture to make sure they recruit the right people.


Treating People with Kindness(via @ThisIsSethsBlog) No need to click through. This is the whole post. And it’s great.

One theory says that if you treat people well, you’re more likely to encourage them to do what you want, making all the effort pay off. Do this, get that.

Another one, which I prefer, is that you might consider treating people with kindness merely because you can. Regardless of what they choose to do in response, this is what you choose to do. Because you can.


Oregon Man Lives in a Retired Boeing 727 Airliner That Is Parked in the Woods(via @22Words) I want to go to there.



[Quick note: after I drafted this post last week, I heard from my friend Jason Young, who compiled the mother lode of guest services reading for the summer. You can find that list here or on Jason’s blog (which should be in your bookmarks, anyway). Alrighty, now on to the post…]

It’s that time once again, campers: time to dust off your beach bags and fill ’em with beach reads and head to the beach. Unless you’re like me – a guy who hates the beach – in which case you’ll stay inside out of the sunlight and as close to the air conditioning vent as is humanly possible.

There are plenty of bloggers out there who are offering up a fantastic eclectic mix of summer reads. Trevin Wax published his last week, and it’s been making the rounds quicker than a stomach bug in a first grade classroom.

I thought it might be fun to put out my seven favorite reads from the last year or so, all centered around guest services. And away we go…

Disney U: How Disney University Develops the World’s Most Engaged, Loyal, and Customer-Centric Employees, Doug Lipp. Lipp trained under Van France, the first to implement Cast Member training at Disneyland. Reading this book will inspire you to capture the same kind of magic for your church vols.

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, Atul Gawande. You will instantly bear the title of “nerd” if you order this book. But you’ll also thank me. Gawande is a Gladwell-esque style writer who uses fantastic stories to illustrate the ingenious importance of a simple checklist. Don’t love it ’til you’ve tried it.

Secret Service: Hidden Systems that Deliver Unforgettable Customer ServiceJohn DiJulius. I’ve never recommended a book on hair salons before. And chances are, you’ve never read one. But DiJulius has captured the essence of his chain’s service with one (paraphrased) statement: “We don’t provide $100 haircuts. We provide $25 haircuts with $100 worth of experience.”

Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, Simon Sinek. Sinek unintentionally explains one of our First Impressions plumblines: the why is more important than the what. Get a grasp on how you help your volunteers know not just what they do, but why they do it.

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration, Ed Catmull. We’re all fans of Pixar movies: whether it’s Toy StoryA Bug’s Life, or that classic kiddie movie about an old man whose wife died and left him to float away in his house, Pixar knows how to tell a story. Learn the method behind their team’s madness.

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell. Some research says that a person will make eleven separate decisions about you within the first seven seconds of contact. How can you use that knee jerk reaction for both your benefit and theirs? Get inside the mind of your guests – and your vols – with the help of a fantastic storyteller.

Why Church Buildings Matter: The Story of Your Space, Tim Cool. Tim walks the reader through what your facility – owned or rented – says about what you value.

What about an eighth? Or a ninth? Got any great guest services reads that need to be on my reading list for the summer? Comment below.


Secrets of Consistent Customer Service: How to Be Great Again and Again. (via @micahsolomon) How’s your church doing on the consistency scorecard? Do you deliver the same (or better!) “wow” experiences each week?

The summary statement for a standard should include the following:
1. Why the service is of value (why we’re doing this in the first place)
2. The emotional response we’re aiming to have the customer feel
3. The expected way to accomplish the service. (Point three should be formulated in a manner that allows judgment and discretion to be used in all but mission-critical situations.)


Six Lies Grads Will Be Told. (via @mikeleake) This surfaced on Pastor J.D.’s blog last week, but dang it’s good. And I may or may not have heard that same speech the night before I read it.

5. Throw away the map and write your own story! Forget what the generations before you have taught. You live in the now and you write history. This sounds great now but I wonder what you’ll think about this quote in twenty years, when a new batch of grads are being told to throw away the map that you’ve been writing. We need history. There is nothing new under the sun. There isn’t a new story to write. There’s only the Grand Old Story to embrace and enjoy.


9 Clever Business Cards You’d Want in Your Wallet. (via @entmagazine) Based on what you do for a living, what would your “build your own business card” look like?

A mechanical engineer named Bryce Bell created the “Cardapult,” a business card that doubles as a catapult.

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Way back when I was a bivocational pastor and moonlighted in the business world for about 25 minutes, I attended a few of those events where an inspirational speaker would stand and talk about how he changed his life through motivational excellence and You Can Too.  Usually they were somebody who had gotten so unbelievably excellent at their job that they had shot from the mailroom to middle management to CEO and then blew right out of the building to the ultimate in the business world: Consultant.  The consultants would usually pad their pockets with extra cash by flying around to business people events and help the rest of us morons figure out not only how to have excellence on par with Abraham Lincoln, the Dalai Lama, and Bruce Springsteen, but also how we could file our papers more effectively.  And they usually just charged $199 to get you to be as awesomely excellent as they were, and they even threw in an attractive leatherette portfolio with stars embossed on it.

One of the excellent guys (who actually was better than most of them) talked about the power of active listening.  He had a habit of going into a retail store, and when the cashier would mumble, “How are you today, sir?”  He would smile all bright and cheery and reply, “Your face is on fire!”

Read the entire original post here.

Five Facts About Multisite Churches That Should Impact All Churches(via @RichBirch) None of these findings are particularly surprising, but they’re all a good reminder for all of us. How do our churches measure up on the metrics?

68% of multisite churches stated they have a formal leadership development process.

At it’s core it would appear that thriving multisite churches are leadership development machines … they are able to find more volunteers and staff to lead their ever expanding ministries. Critical to this process is the ability to develop leaders. How is your church tackling the leadership development process? Is it written down? Does it have a leader and a budget? It’s going to be need to formal to meet the need of reaching your community.

Five Quick Tips For Lasting Customer Service(via @FastCompany) Whether you’re a CEO or a shepherd, this’ll help you in the quest to connect.

First, I don’t call people clients, or even customers. At my companies we refer to them as “guests,” and we are their host. We are always happy to see them and strive to make their time with each of us a great experience.

You Haven’t Seen A Big Brother Like This, Ever(via @Cheezburger) If you can watch this without weeping, you have no soul.

It happened again just a few minutes ago.

I was on the phone with a company, trying to get a customer service issue resolved, and I had the sneaky suspicion the service rep wasn’t giving me her full attention.

Oh, she was doing plenty of talking. There was lots of typing going on the background. She was obviously taking notes, trying to be helpful, attempting to take care of my concern.

But she jumped ahead. She assumed she knew. She tried to fill in blanks that weren’t there. And because of that, what should have been a four minute call turned in to 14.

I’m afraid we do the same thing in our churches. Because we’ve been down that road, we think we know the answer to everyone’s question. The only problem is, the question we’re answering may not be the same question they’re asking.

So stop. Breathe. Take a minute, and really listen.

What’s their concern?

What do they need from me?

What clarification do I need to ask for?

How can I best serve them…right now?

If we’ll just listen, we might be surprised to find out what we hear.

Related post: Listen.

Neighbors accuse church of too much joyful noise(via @latimes) What’s the balance between being a blessing to your community and risking annoyance? Discuss.

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“Is this a church?” Sidonie Smith said as she stood outside Grant Elementary in Santa Monica. “I’m so excited about the impact it will have on our community. I’ve been praying for a church to come here for 40 years.”

Not all residents share Smith’s enthusiasm. Since late January, some neighbors have expressed dissatisfaction with the arrangement between City of God church and its landlord, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.

Might as well burn that bridge all the way down to the pilings(via @ThisIsSethsBlog) Work with guests? The public? People who are breathing? Might wanna read this today.

When someone gives you gentle feedback, it’s because they want to connect, not because they want to help you finish burning down the bridge you ignited in the first place. They don’t want an excuse, a clever comeback or a recitation that you’re just doing your job.

Snake fights crocodile in five hour battle to the death…then eats it(via @22Words) Australia: one of the 1,001 Places You Need To See Before You Die If You Want To Die.

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Once the 5-hour reptilian brawl ended, the snake dragged the crocodile to shore. It then began at the crocodile’s head and over the course of just 15 minutes, completely swallowed the entire thing.

Outside-In Approach to Design and ROI of Patient Experiences(via @Zhecho_BeyondP) It’s a long article, but there are nuggets in there well worth the read. What can a hospital’s MRI machine teach you about your weekend guest experience?

Dietz went in and designed an experience to appeal to children and overcome the feeling of “fear”. He and his team created “the adventure series”. Before the child goes to the scanner room, it will be told that it’s about to go on an adventure. Doug’s team then redecorated the room so it looks like the kid is about to step into a “canoe” and to be careful not to “rock the boat” and if it stayed still it may even see fish jumping on top of the boat. The design also made use of other human senses e.g. smell and sound. They injected water and lavender smells in the room and as they had painted a waterfall on the wall they played the distant soft sound of water running which we all know is calming. In a word they designed a complete experience.

Automating Small Decisions(via @trenttsd) Like life hacks? Here’s the reason they work:

…our lives are full of decisions and our minds can only successfully handle so many of them in a given time period. Once we reach that cap, we become more and more subject to “decision fatigue.” The decision making parts of our mind are tired and thus are more susceptible to making errors when making little decisions.

Milky the Marvelous Milking Cow(via @LaughingSquid) Yep…I’m a proud child of the 70’s. And yep…I had one of these. You kids can keep your GameBoxes and XBoys. I’ll take Milky and her milk pills any old day…literally minutes of by-yourself-enjoyment.

Avoiding the Christmas Crowd Trap. (via @MarkLWaltz) A great reminder as we head towards Christmas at DPAC. Don’t just show up to serve. Engage. 

We expect thousands of new people this Christmas season. People who haven’t attended church services much, if at all, the rest of the year.

There’s a hidden trap in all this. When we acknowledge that many of our guests don’t attend services except at Christmas time (or Easter), we are prone to assume they won’t return ’til next year. 

And that subtle assumption can adversely affect our approach to guests this season…


33 Ways to Show Your Volunteers You Love Them(via Rich Birch) Thanks to my friend @alanpace for tipping me off to this one.

23. Calculate how many hours your volunteers have served in that last year and celebrate that!

24. Reinforce regularly with paid staff that our #1 role is to support our volunteers.

25. Take pictures of your volunteers serving and post them on various social media channels.


WestJet Passengers Have Their Christmas Wishes Granted(via @taylorherringpr) In case you’re one of the five people on the planet that hasn’t seen this in the last few days, watch it. Now. This takes “surprise and delight” to a whole new level. I don’t know where WestJet flies, but I want to go to there.

P10704871-1024x768On Friday, Merriem and I stole away to one of our favorite date spots: Ted’s Montana Grill. It’s the perfect place to go if you like eating copious amounts of meat while staring at the dismembered head of the poor animal who provided said meat. And it’s also owned by Ted Turner, so I can feel good about getting food while lining the pockets of the guy who forces us to watch hours upon hours of Fresh Prince of Bel Air reruns on TBS each day.

But I digress.

Our server was a guy named Brendan. Friendly, but not creepy friendly. Helpful, but not hovering. The type of server who would get a good tip, but not one you’d just rave about after the meal was over.

Until the straw.

You see, Ted’s is an environmentally friendly company, which means that they serve you sustainable bison, or something like that. And we love just about everything about Ted’s, except for the drink straws.

Their straws are made of paper, because they’re good for the environment. Which is fantastic, unless you happen to be the kind of person who enjoys using your straw to drink liquids. Because after a paper straw sits in a Diet Dr. Pepper for about 45 seconds, it’s not so much a straw as it is a decoration. A soggy, pulpy decoration.

So Merriem light-heartedly mentioned that she didn’t need a straw, because she wasn’t a fan. Brendan laughed along with her, “I understand that. They’re not my favorite, either.” And that was that.

Or so we thought.

A couple of minutes later, I spotted Brendan re-entering the restaurant. I didn’t know he’d left. But he had. And he went next door – to another restaurant – to get my wife a plastic straw.


It was a simple action. It didn’t cost him a dime. It didn’t take more than a few seconds. It certainly didn’t get him promoted to assistant manager.

But it was meaningful. It got our attention. And it made us feel appreciated and valued beyond belief.

Brendan heard us, empathized with us, and took a step to make sure we had a great meal. And that’s where the nexus of service and experience meets.

We’ll be back to Ted’s. Not only because we love the food, but because we love the service.

What “straws” are your providing to your guests?