By DeNeen K. Attard
When was the last time you measured the level of customer service provided in your church? Has it been months, years, decades or never? Unfortunately, many church leaders overlook customer service due to the daily busyness of church operations and as a result, they suffer the consequences. Failure to address customer service related issues can cost you resources, time, money and membership growth.
Viewing congregation members and those you serve as customers might be a new concept for some church leaders. However, viewing the situation from this perspective can help to improve the level of customer service provided. When you look at the situation from this perspective, it helps you to categorize your congregation as either internal or external customers. This will help you to identify the needs of both groups and create an appropriate action plan. Internal customers consist of pastoral staff members, leadership teams, support staff and volunteers while external customers are congregation members and any other outside organizations in which you collaborate or serve.
CREATING A PLAN
Creating and implementing a customer service plan is central to creating a thriving environment. A customer service plan should cover the following areas.
- Who is the customer: internal, external, special needs, expectations, etc…
- How will customers be treated?
- What is each person’s role in customer service: This includes staff members, volunteers, etc…
- How will customer issues be resolved and or escalated if necessary?
- How will you measure customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction: Will you be conducting an in-house survey or hiring an independent agency to mystery shop your location? How often will you measure your results?
TIPS ON WHERE TO START
When developing your customer service plan keep in mind that your church is comprised of both internal and external customers; each with its own set of unique challenges and needs. Once established, everyone in a leadership and supportive position should know his or her role in providing excellent customer service. Your customer service plan should be:
Here are some ideas to consider when developing your customer service plan. Many if not all will apply to both internal and external customers.
- Keep your word. If you commit to something, see it through.
- Acknowledge and address concerns. Create a venue for customers to share their issues, concerns, prayer requests, praise reports, etc…
- Establish an escalation procedure.
- Maintain a website presence. Make sure that your website is easy to navigate and all of your social media pages are current and contain relevant information.
- Empower your staff. Provide them with the necessary knowledge to assist those in need.
- Make sure your facilities are clean and organized.
- Respond to text, voicemail and email inquires in a timely manner.
- Establish a greeter program and provide friendly service.
- Talk to your volunteers and leadership team members (internal customers). Those who volunteer their time and talents to serve others can provide you with a wealth of information regarding the pulse of your church.
- Provide open and clear communication.
- Don’t abuse your “spiritual power”. No one should be mistreated, used, manipulated or humiliated.
COACHING YOUR TEAM TO SUCCESS
One way to ensure success in rolling out your new customer service plan is to use coaching techniques as you develop and train your team. A coaching approach allows you to partnership with those charged with executing your customer service plan. A successful coaching process will inspire commitment rather than create tension. When you help your team members to cultivate their talents they will have a positive impact in the environment they work. When looking for ways to meet the demands and exceed your customers’ expectations it is best to remember the business world phrase, “Inspect what you expect”!