Creating Exceptional Experiences for Guest Families

Recently, I took my car in for some maintenance.  I took it to a small company that specializes in working on the brand of car I own.  When I entered, I was immediately greeted and made to feel at home.  After getting my information, they offered me the option of a complimentary ride home during the wait or I could hang out in the waiting lounge.  I chose to stay since I had brought work with me.  Seeing I had my laptop, they quickly let me know free wi-fi was available. 

If you've been to have your car worked on, you know that most car businesses offer free coffee.  And this business did as well, but they made the experience exceptional.  Whereas most places have serve yourself, one of their workers came and asked what kind of coffee I would like.  They offered several options.  After taking my order, he returned in a few minutes with not only the coffee, but with breakfast food as well.  For me, that seemingly little extra touch turned a good experience into an exceptional experience.

This weekend a family is going to walk through your church doors for the first time.  They will decide if they are going to return or not based on the guest experience you provide for them.  If the experience is good, they may return.  But if the experience is exceptional, the likelihood that they return increases greatly.

How can you make their experience exceptional?  Well, here's the good news.  It doesn't take a lot of extra money or time.  You see, it's the small things that make a guest family's experience go from good to exceptional.

Walt Disney World resorts are a great model of how small, intentional add-ons can turn good into exceptional.  Here are some examples.

  • Pixie Dust: “Close your eyes, make a wish, and with a little faith, trust and pixie dust may all your wishes and dreams come true.” That’s the special phrase you may hear as a merchandise Cast Member sprinkles pixie-dust over a guest entering one of their retail locations.  Being “pixie-dusted” creates a magical moment that can transform a typical shopping experience into a cherished memory.
  • Bell Ringer:  Every day at noon, a guest is chosen to ring the lunch bell at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & CafĂ© – one of their quick service dining locations in Magic Kingdom Park. With the clang of the bell, and the aid of fellow cast members, the bell ringer is encouraged to call out to passersby – “It’s time for lunch! Come in and eat!” Again, this simple touch provides a unique experience for the bell ringer, as well as for fellow diners and those who thought they were just passing by.
  • Celebration Buttons: These provide a unique opportunity to connect with guests on an individual basis.  Celebration buttons send a visual cue to cast members that a guest is celebrating a birthday, anniversary or their first visit.   This creates numerous chances for fun, spontaneous interactions with cast members and guests.
As you can see, the above examples don't take a lot of extra money or even much time.  You can get more tips from Disney about creating exceptional guest services experiences in our book If Disney Ran Your Children's Ministry.   Think about some small things like this that you could do to provide your guests with an exceptional experience.  I would even encourage you to sit down with your team and make a list of some simple add-ons that have the potential for this.

Here are a few ideas...
  • Have a separate check-in area for guests. 
  • Give guests a small gift with your ministry logo on it (an example would be a wristband).
  • Walk guests to their room instead of pointing them. 
  • Give guests a "fast pass" for pick-up. 
  • Give guests a special name tag or button so volunteers can give them extra attention and make them feel at home.
  • Call guests by their first name. 
  • Find out what the guests' favorite candy is and get it for them. 
  • If you sell coffee at your church, give guests a coupon for free coffee.
  • Offer a guest reception area for new kids and their parents after the service. Have popcorn, snacks, etc. available at the reception. 
Exceptional service makes an impact.  Exceptional is remembered.  Exceptional service brings families back.  Exceptional service helps grow a ministry.   Exceptional service helps close the back door.

Your turn.  The floor is yours.  What are things you do to provide exceptional service for guests?  What are some of the little "add-ons" you do for them?  Share your thoughts and ideas with us in the comment section below.