Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Experience: A Review

You walk into your church on Sunday morning and see a piece of trash on floor.  What do you do?  On your way to your Bible study class, you see a young couple with three small children who appear to be confused and looking for the right place to go.  What do you do?

If you choose to accept responsibility in the two instances above---disposing of that trash in a refuse container and taking the time to get the couple to the places they need to be—the philosophy behind The Experience:  The 5 Principles of Disney Service and Relationship Excellence will seem like common sense and second nature to you.

Bruce Loeffler and Brian Church have drawn on their time with the Disney organization to put together a book which is much a checklist as it is a narrative.  They provide additional examples of superior experiences from other organizations such as the Ritz-Carlton Hotels, Tractor Supply Company (TSC), and Starbucks that are known for their customer service focus.

Their “I. C.A.R.E.” model covers five ingredients of providing a superior customer experience..

Impression: How do you make a lasting impression on the person you are serving, one that initiates a healthy relationship that can become stronger over time?  

Connection: How do you “convert clients and customers from consumers to Ambassadors--those on a mission to tell the world specifically about you”?

Attitude: How does your attitude impact the way you see the world and how you express your inward feelings?

Response: How can you develop your own sense of personal responsibility so that you respond productively to a need rather than simply reacting?

Exceptionals: How do you develop an attitude in your organization of adding value or “going above and beyond” to provide more than the customer wants?

If you are a Christian believer, you are ahead of the curve on this approach.  In fact, the authors use a lot of ecclesiastical terms to get their message across:  servanthood, discipleship, mission, evangelism—even though they don’t use them with the same theological significance.

So why should this matter to you as a church leader?  If we are going to practice hospitality in our churches (and hospitality is really service to others), we need to be very intentional about it.  There are many churches that proclaim “all are welcome here” but often fall short of delivering on the promise.

According to the authors the key to offering exceptional service is being willing to “go the extra mile” for the guest.  This is based on Matthew 5:41:  If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.  By law, a Roman soldier could compel a Jew to carry his pack for one mile. The soldier, the conqueror, was in control.  Jesus (and, according to the authors, other first century rabbis) suggested that offering to carry the pack an additional mile put the Jew in control.  When we go the second mile, we are exercising servanthood as a means of personal empowerment.  We are also sacrificing something of ourselves on the behalf of another by our own choice.

The book can be a bit repetitious at times and the format sometimes seems like a workbook, but the ideas presented are practical and informative.  If you want to improve the experience of guests in your church, spend some time with The Experience.

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