5 Characteristics of a Guest-Focused Culture

– a note from the Vision Room Curator: During August we are focusing on Guest Experience in churches, but some of the most powerful learning for churches can occur by reading about customer service – all you have to do is substitute the word “Guest” every time you see “customer.” The following content was graciously supplied by Annette Franz, a customer experience expert. Enjoy!

Creating a Guest-Focused Culture

I was looking through some old files last week and came across something I had written a couple of years ago about how to go from collecting feedback to creating a service culture, especially among your frontline staff/teams.

My thoughts haven’t really changed much since then. Let’s get started!

Hire and build it.

  • Hire the right people – those passionate about customer service.
  • Like Zappos, ensure there’s a good culture fit, too.
  • Train and empower your staff.
  • Encourage ownership of execution at the front lines; ask staff to define the ultimate customer service experience.
  • Remove employees who don’t want to adopt this new culture.
  • Treat your employees the same way you want your customers treated.
  • The customer experience is driven by the employee experience.

Announce and socialize it.

  • Make sure everyone understands why this initiative is so important.
  • Create a “greater cause” mentality in all staff segments.
  • Create a language around your VOC initiative; brand it, give it a name, etc.

Live it.

  • Mystery shop your own products and your service. You. Yes you!
  • Call your customer service line to see what your customers are experiencing.
  • Ask yourself, “Would I enjoy being, or want to be, a customer of this store?”

Operationalize it.

  • Prioritize key metrics and communicate them to the team.
  • Define your ultimate customer experience – taking into account feedback from your customers.
  • Outline your “Truly Outstanding Customer Contact” and train the team on what that means; better yet, let them define what it means so they own it (see above).
  • Realize that this is not about quick fixes; it’s a life-long endeavor (for you and your customers).
  • It is a way of doing business, not just the initiative of the day.
  • Talk about your scores in every team meeting.
  • Be sure to share comments with your frontline and let the voice of the customer be heard!
  • Communicate process changes internally and externally; close the loop with customers and let them know what process changes have been implemented as a result of their feedback; communicate changes to employees.  Make “visible” your commitment to listening to and acting on feedback.
  • Look for ways to be proactive in communicating with customers about new services, products, etc.
  • Be proactive in correcting an issue; don’t wait for a customer to call it to your attention.
  • Provide great service to everyone:  prospects, customers, employees, vendors/partners.
  • Fix issues quickly, and close the loop with all involved.
  • Create and maintain a best practices log/manual. Document it all: suggestions, solutions implemented, culture designed by employees, etc. Use it for coaching, training, onboarding, etc.
  • Treat customers as you would like to be treated!
  • Remember that customers are the reason that you are in business
  • (Over-)deliver on the brand promise!  Every day.  Every interaction.

Celebrate it.

  • Incentivize key staff for improvements.
  • Celebrate great service! Reward, recognize, and share examples.
  • Develop a competitive spirit! Have fun!
  • Find ways to show your appreciation… for customers and for staff.

“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.” – this quote has been attributed to Mahatma Gandhi

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Annette Franz

Annette Franz

Annette Franz is Founder and CEO (Chief Experience Officer, of course!) of CX Journey Inc. She has 25 years of experience helping companies understand their customers and employees and identifying what drives retention, satisfaction, engagement, and the overall experience. She is active in the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA), as: an Executive Officer on the Board of Directors, a CX Expert, a CX Mentor, and a SoCal Local Networking Lead. Annette is also a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP).

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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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