I believe your guest services team is a crucial part of your church's ministry. It has been said that people decide in the first 8 minutes if they will return or not.
Those 8 minutes are usually spent interacting with your guest services team. So you can see how important your guest services team is. Your guest services team is a make or break factor with guests.
That being said and acknowledged, preparing them to lead is one of the most important things you will do.
What training should you provide for them?
What should they focus on?
What are the wins for them?
Let's look at 5 key things you should teach and train your guest services team about.
Guests' parking. Reserve the best parking for guests.
Think about how you feel when you are at Target or Walmart or Costco and you find a great parking spot up close to the building. You enter the store feeling lucky to have gotten such a great spot and not having to walk from a mile away to finally get into the store.
That's the way guests feel when you reserve parking for them. You're making a great impression with them before they ever enter the building. Guests who have to spend those first 8 minutes circling the parking lot, looking for a parking place, probably won't come back. I have personally seen guests drive away in frustration because they were no good parking spots left.
Smiles. This may sound so simple that you don't feel like it's important. Believe me. Whether your team smiles or not is a big deal. Trust me. It is huge.
I often ask for feedback from first-time guests. One week, I received feedback from a guest family that said we did a great job explaining the security process and making them feel safe. But...they said the lady at the door never smiled at them. Out of all the positive experiences they had on their first visit, they remembered the bland facial expression of a volunteer.
Think about your own interaction with places of business. How does it feel when you are met with a bland or even frowning face? It gives you a negative connotation doesn't it? That's exactly how your guests feel when they are not met with a smile. Guests will always remember how you made them feel. And a smile goes a long way in making people feel welcome.
Teach your team to smile. Smile. Smile. Smile. And smile some more.
p.s. You should fill your key guest services positions with people who are naturally positive and upbeat. One "Negative Nelly" can cause guests to not return. You want people who are naturally a people person in those roles. All the training in the world can't override a person who was seemingly baptized in pickle juice.
Walking rather than pointing. Create a plan that enables you to always walk guests to their room. This means you will need extra team members in your guests services area that can step away and walk guests to their rooms without leaving you shorthanded at registration.
Think about the difference it makes in your perception when you ask for help in a store and they are able to walk you to the item you are looking for. Compare that to how you feel when they point and basically say "good luck with that." It can be a huge factor in whether or not you return. Same goes with your guests at church.
Not making guests wait. No one likes to wait. That's why we scan the checkout lines at the grocery store and try to find the shortest line, right? And when you can't find a short line, it is frustrating, isn't it? Especially if you have children with you.
You don't want your guests to have that experience, right? One of the best things you can do is create a separate check-in area that is reserved for guests. Remember, you only have 8 minutes to make a great first impression and you don't want them spending 6 of those minutes standing in a line.
Making the experience personal. Guests want to know that you genuinely care about them and their family. They don't want to feel like they are just another number to be counted and rushed to the place where they should be on campus.
Focus on making guests feel known and genuinely welcomed. This doesn't mean having them stand up and publicly humiliating them. That can have the opposite effect. Instead, here are a few ways you can make it personal.
Call them by their name. The sweetest sound to anyone's ears is their name. Use their name several times during your interaction with them.
Send them a handwritten note. Make the note personal by writing in a few facts you learned about them. This let's them know they are not an afterthought, but that you were really listening as they responded to your questions.
Catch up with them after the service. Many guest service teams consider their role ended once church starts. That's okay, but if you want to make a GREAT first impression on families, spend a few minutes talking with them after the service. Thank them for coming. Make small talk about something they shared with you before service started.
This doesn't mean cornering them. You can sense when they are ready to go. Don't talk so much they get that glazed look in their eyes that says, "Please let me go. I'm hungry and lunch is waiting."
Incorporate these 5 things into your Guest Service teams and you'll make a big impact on guests and will see many of them return.
Your turn. The floor is yours. What are some other things guest service teams need to focus on? Share your thoughts, insight and ideas in the comment section below.