Are you giving guests the 3 things they want at your church? (Part 2 of 3)


This is the second of 3 posts identifying assimilation takeaways from Horst Schultze, former President and COO of Ritz-Carlton Hotels (click here for the first post). People are people, wherever they are. With this in mind I want to look at the 3 things Horst says every customer wants whether they are at a hotel, retail store, or a church:

The first thing a customer looks for is a defect-free product. In a hotel this would mean that the bedding was clean, the room was at a good temperature, and the batteries in the TV remote and the light bulbs in the lamps did not need replacing. In a grocery store, it might mean that the diet coke you purchased had the cap screwed on tight, was full and not half empty, and wasn't too hot or cold. 

Giving guests not perfection, but excellence, honors God and removes barriers to the work of his Spirit in a guest's first encounter with your church.

A defect free product at church might mean a that a guest heard an understandable relevant message from the pastor, the music was quality and enjoyable, the people were friendly and their kids had fun and learned something. Let's face it: though we should not be driven by the consumeristic tendencies of our culture, when we deliver messages to guests that are hard for them to follow, music that they cannot enjoy or is not well sung/played, leave them without so much as a greeting, and with kids who cried during most of the service, this is a distraction from the good news of Jesus and what He may want to say to their hearts. Giving guests not perfection, but excellence, honors God and removes barriers to the work of his Spirit in a guest's first encounter with your church.


The second thing any customer looks for is timely delivery. In a hotel, this could mean that meals at restaurants and room service are served in a reasonable amount of time. In retail, it could mean they are not put on hold when ordering a product or have too many steps to fill out online during a purchase. Basically, we do not like to wait when we are a customer. 

In a church, timely delivery could take the form of a sermon that was a little shorter than anticipated, music that did not go on forever, and a service length that met expectations. Getting answers to questions in a timely manner fits into this category as well. We need to remember why successful super-markets open up a new register when "three's a crowd". If you have a counter or room that you invite guests to after services, that means lines are the enemy of connection. If you are asking anything from them (like a filled out card), there should be no lines for them to wait in for the privilege of giving it to you. Why? Because guests at our churches do not like to wait. They would like a timely and friendly experience at your church. 


The third thing customers want is to feel like they're home. This one was profound in its implications. Horst's research indicated that a guest at the Ritz-Carlton not only wants to feel at home (think comfort and familiarity), but that they want their "mom" to be the one delivering customer service. Before you get creeped out by that (like I did), it was a discernment based on how they described what they wanted from customer service. When was the last time you brought an issue or request to your mom and her answer was, "Let me ask the manager"? Never. She would walk with you until your need got met or your issue was resolved. This "collective mom" like model meant the following competencies were necessary for anyone that interfaced with guests:

  • Being ready to engage-no texting, or checking smart phones when guests are present.
  • Calling guests by name as soon as they learn it.
  • Walking people over (never pointing to) the place that will have the answer or help they are looking for. 
  • No one is invisible. Let a guests know you see them when they come within 12 feet of you, especially if they are in a line, even if just through a simple acknowledgment. 

That 12 foot one is important. Horst says that a person decides if this is someplace that feels like home when they come within 12 feet of the first person that represents your organization (or church). 

I was sharing the Ritz-Carlton commitment to making a guest feel like they're home with my brother in law Scott who stayed almost every month at a Ritz Carlton in his last job. He said something that made both of us very curious as to the extent the hotel may actually go to create this feeling of comfort and familiarity. He said that no matter which Ritz he stayed at, his room number always ended in an 18. He thought it was unusual at first, but then he got used to it, mainly because of its benefits. It meant that no matter which hotel he was at or floor he was on, when he got off the elevator the room was always three doors to the right. Over time, it allowed him to walk through the hotel with the same absent minded muscle memory we all walk around our homes with from the moment he arrived. 


It makes me think of something Jesus said:

"The people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light". -Luke 16:8

It also makes me think of a prayer of David's:

"Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground". -Psalm 143:10

Intentionally addressing these 3 things that guest's want when they go anywhere, much less your church, is not catering to consumerism. It is eliminating distractions, frustrations and potential minefields by giving a level playing field for the Holy Spirit to work in the life of someone He's drawn to your campus. 

May God's good spirit lead your guests on level ground when they come to worship with you. Give them what they want. You will both be glad you did.

My next and last post in this series on how the Ritz-Carlton can inform the assimilation ministry of your church will uncover the most high impact thing you can say to a volunteer when you are onboarding them. It blew my mind, made Andy Stanley emotional when he heard Horst Schultze say it his new employees, and I can't wait to share it with you.

Cliff Mojo.png
  • Which of the 3 wants of a guest do you find most easy to address at your church these days? Which one might be most challenging for your church? Why?
  • Does the signage on your campus familiarize your guest with the locations they want to know about?
  • Who are the first people that guests come within 12 feet of at your church that represent it in some official way? Assessing them on a 1 to 10 scale, are those people equipped to address guests in a way that makes them feel at home?
  • Would you add anything to the bulleted competencies for making a guest feel like they're home? How could you build these into volunteers who engage on a weekly basis with your guests?
Greg CurtisComment