4 Habits Behind a Successful Guest Experience

The most important 2 feet can be found on the front lines of your church’s Guest Services or Hospitality teams:

  1. They belong to the team members who are the “first face” of your church – parking lot crews, greeters, ushers – anyone who is making the first impression with your Guests.
  2. They also represent the space and distance where the words you use and the actions you take make the most powerful impact with your Guest.

The interactions that take place in that space (two feet) by your team member (two feet) are rich with expectations – and can also be filled with missed opportunities. In that space your front-line team members have become the face and voice of your organization. Creating a great Guest Experience comes down to having great people on your front line teams and training them well. Many churches struggle with Guest services. Often the primary barrier is translating the organization’s vision into action at the front line. An article in HBR.org outlined four activities that your church can learn from when it comes to your front line teams. 

  1. Listen to team members. Want your team to take great care of your Guest? Start by taking great care of them.
  2. Hire for attitude, not aptitude — and then reinforce attitude. To get friendly service, enlist friendly people. Having selected people with the right attitudes, leaders need to ensure they reinforce the behaviors they want to see.
  3. Give people purpose, not rules. Rules have their place, but they go only so far. When people are given clear expectations and trusted to do their jobs, they feel valued and empowered. They choose to go that extra mile through passion, not compliance.
  4. Tap into the creativity of your front line. Giving frontline team members responsibility and autonomy inspires them to do whatever they can to improve the Guest experience. When they see a problem, they fix it without waiting to be asked.

Engaging with Guests is primarily through personal contact, and that starts on the front lines with your team. The care and energy your teams use to connect with Guests reflect the care and energy you as a leader use to connect with your team.

A release of our SUMS free book summaries spoke directly to this topic. Judgment on the Front Line by Chris DeRose and Noel Tichy outlines how front-line team members can be one of your greatest assets and shows how to tap their rich vein of insight and leadership. Download a copy of this free summary here.


 How your front line teams represent your church – what they do (or don’t do), what they say (or don’t say) – that’s the powerful human “first impression” your Guest is experiencing – and will remember.

Want to know more about Guest Experiences in your church? Start a conversation with our team. We’re glad to offer our input. Your vision is at stake, so let’s talk.
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Bob Adams

Bob Adams

Bob is an absolute fanatic about Guest Experiences, growing up watching his father serve customers at the gas station he built and operated for 44 years. Bob is continually connecting with corporate leaders in the customer experience world, learning and then translating practices for ChurchWorld. He writes, speaks, and consults on the topic frequently. Best of all, he is a front-line practitioner at Elevation Church, serving in various roles at the Uptown and Lake Norman Campuses. Vocationally, Bob has a dual role at Auxano, a clarity first consulting firm serving the church. As Vision Room Curator and Digital Engagement Leader he researches, edits, writes and publishes online content. As Guest Experience Navigator, he leverages his passion, providing Guest Perspective Evaluations and Guest Experience Blueprints. Bob and his wife Anita have been married for 38 years. They have 4 children, 2 daughters-in-law, 1 son-in-law, and 4 grandchildren.

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What say you? Leave a comment!

Joel Sprenger — 07/12/14 12:08 pm

Remember that Churches are different from businesses. More important in a church setting than the staff being friendly and welcoming is if the church people themselves are friendly and welcoming. It is a difficult thing to teach. It is difficult enough to teach Christians to give a percentage of their wealth to God, teaching Christians to give a percentage of their lives to God by being friendly towards and friends with people who will never have any network value is even more difficult.

Tere Jackson — 02/08/14 4:04 pm

Yes! In 2013 Houston Methodist West Hospital Ambulatory Surgery Patient Satisfaction Scores ranked above superior in all quarters. This has placed our hospital Outpatient Surgery Department in the top 10th percentile nationally!!! Our staff and front line volunteers live the ICARE values providing a positive Methodist Experience and personalized care for our patients! I believe in the 4 habits of a successful Guest Experience!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
— Glenna Hendricks
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright

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