I don’t know about you but I always find it refreshing to encounter an organization that provides an over-the-top service experience.
These great experiences create that wow moment that makes you want to maintain the relationship with that service provider.
Those wow moments can be the result of an employee who goes out of their way to escort you to a location in the store to find an item you were looking for; or perhaps a waitress who chases you to your car to deliver the credit card that you left; or maybe the physician who calls you late after a long day to check on you.
These kinds of service experiences pave the way for great relationships between those providing the service and those on the receiving end.
The Church and Service
Churches are unique in that what they do is the very foundation of service. They help people.
Churches do this by caring for hurting people and providing programs that facilitate spiritual development.
They are the hands and feet that touch the lives of each other, visitors and those within their communities.
In the business community, organizations incorporate service standards into their training programs to ensure that there is an understanding of behavior expectations, consistency in practice and a commitment to providing the best possible service experience for those who are on the receiving end of their products and services.
It is the culture of these organizations that support these standards of excellence, and employees understand the pivotal role they play in providing that service and support.
Providing a great church experience for visitors and members is critical to church credibility and growth.
It has been said that a visitor makes up their mind about attending a church long before the sermon is preached.
Taking the time to conduct service training for church employees and volunteers prepares them to provide that great church experience.
So how does the church create these friendly and welcoming environments?
First of all there needs to be a church culture that provides the support and training for creating great experiences.
This begins at the highest level of leadership and is carried throughout the ranks of employees and volunteers.
One step in the process is to create standards of service that are communicated, trained and monitored to hold people accountable.
These standards of expected behaviors should be developed at the highest level of leadership, demonstrated by church leaders and developed into training for employees and volunteers.
Church Standards of Service Commitment
Guests, Members and Volunteers (external customers)
- We will greet our guests, members and each other in a courteous and professional manner.
- We will listen effectively to our customers’ requests and promptly take the necessary actions to assist them. We will keep our customers informed of unexpected delays in service.
- We will inform our customers of normal process time, when they can expect completion and any delays that may arise in the process.
- We will touch base with our customers to update them as to where we are in the process.
- We will respond to website questions/requests within 24 hours during normal business hours.
- We will respond to applicants (employee/volunteer) within 24 hours of normal process time to let them know when they can expect completion and any delays that may arise in the process.
- We will finish our encounters with our customers in a courteous and professional way.
Church Employees and Volunteers (internal customers)
- We will interact with each other in a courteous and professional manner.
- We will inform our internal customers of normal process time, when they can expect completion and any delays that may arise in the process.
- We will touch base with our internal customers daily, either by email or phone, to update them as to where we are in the process.
- We will work to resolve issues with coworkers and other departments by discussing problems directly and working toward agreed upon solutions.
- We will be considerate, cooperative and helpful to every staff member to assure quality services.
- We will hold ourselves and each other accountable for addressing inappropriate comments and behavior.
- When at our desks, we will answer the phone within two rings.
- We will identify ourselves when we answer the phone.
- We will listen to the caller’s request and assist the caller accordingly.
- If we cannot assist the caller, we will direct the call to the appropriate person. Before transferring the call, we will obtain the caller’s permission and provide the caller with the name and extension number of the person who will be helping the caller.
- We will obtain the caller’s permission before placing the call on hold by asking and waiting for a response before initiating the hold function.
- We will end the conversation in a courteous and professional way by thanking the caller. We will wait for the caller to hang up first.
- We will notify our customers that someone is unavailable by saying, “He/She is unavailable. Is this an urgent issue or may I take a message?”
- We will respond to voice mails within 24 hours during normal business hours.
- We will update our voice mail greeting, advising callers when we will be out of the office for an extended period of time (1/2 day or longer), informing callers of when we will return and who they may contact with questions (if applicable).
- We will respond to emails within 24 hours during normal business hours.
- We will update our email notification message when we will be out of the office for an extended period of time (full day or more). We will indicate our expected return date and indicate a contact person (if applicable).
- We will make it our goal to exceed the expectations of all of our customer groups (guests, members, volunteers and employees).
- We will work to anticipate the needs of those we serve by proactively working to meet their needs.
- We will hold ourselves and each other accountable for our service commitment.
- We will be conscious of our communication style (ie; audible voice, eye contact when speaking to someone, tone of voice) and communicate in a professional manner.
- We will make a conscious effort to compliment coworkers when their actions comply with these standards.
These are merely examples of what your standards can be. The goal of this exercise is to communicate the kinds of responses you would like your employees and volunteers to demonstrate while representing the church. You can access an editable copy of these standards of service here.
Once these service standards are created they should be developed into a training for employees and volunteers.
Ask employees and volunteers to commit to these standards and after everyone has been trained, conduct ongoing reminders of the importance of adhering to the standards to ensure that there is consistency in practice.
I am a firm believer that people come to work (volunteer or paid) with the intention of doing a good job. However, we as church leaders need to help them understand our behavior expectations so they can be free to do the work of the ministry in an excellent and consistent way. That is what service standards are all about!
Have you developed service standards for you ministry?