Do you greet your guests as well as Marriott?

After traveling “church to church” with CMI for a few years here are some great things that I have seen in regard to church greeting methods:

1) VIP Parking for guests

2) Attendant to Meet You in the parking lot to get your journey started

3) Packet- w/ Color Brochure of all amenities

4) Friendly Greeters- Visitors Brochure given at Door

5) Free Gift with a visitors card

6) No Standing for recognition in the service

7) Monday after service – Personal call and thanking for attendance

8) Wednesday- Postcard and personalized letter from Preacher with the Headline- “wait there’s more”

9) A personal concierge that helps the guest through their first day at the church

10) A brochure that tells them what to expect with an outline of the service with projected times on it.

If you have ever read “The Spirit to Serve Marriott’s Way” then you will see some very close similarities with how they greet their guest but it provides a great roadmap for churches in the expectation of guests: Here are some the highlights from the book on their processes-

-Expect to have a customer

-Be prepared for their arrival

-Take away all anxiety

-Notice all hesitations and do whatever it takes to make them feel like we want them to continue as our customer

-Confirm Experience in a Positive Manor

So what are the elements of a good greeting at a church?

1. Immediate recognition. Don’t wait even a couple of minutes to acknowledge your guest. If you are anywhere in proximity of your customer say hello. If you are with another first time guest you can still acknowledge them and let them know you will be with them as soon as possible. Nothing is more frustrating than waiting for someone to acknowledge you.

2. Make the greeting warm and sincere. Nothing sets a tone worse than someone who is cold an unapproachable.

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3. Handshakes are optional. I used to recommend that EVERYONE get a handshake, but the fact is that there are many cultures that find that offensive. My best tip is to wait with your hands at your side until the attendee makes the first move. In common courtesy training today the “customer” should always initiate personal contact first.


4. Avoid “How may I help you?” This question often times is met with the thought “Im not sure.” Start off with “How are you?” or comment on something they are wearing “great glasses , where did you get them?”, even a comment on the weather can help you to start building rapport. But if your attendee doesn’t like small talk get to the point quickly. Notice their needs and make recommendations.

5. Understand them. Begin your relationship with the true goal of finding out their wants and needs and making sure that you fulfill them.

These five steps will help you start building rapport and trust. The sooner you can build rapport and trust with your customer, the sooner you can start tearing down the wall that the average person walking into a church the first time has up.

Even though this all sounds so basic, aren’t you amazed at how often you are ignored or treated badly?

6) Remember you only have about five seconds to create an impression. Make sure it is a good one! A good first impression starts a positive relationship with your attendees. On the other hand a poor first impression can sometime end the relationship right there. And when you factor in word of mouth and how many other people the attendee may talk to about their bad experience with your church you can see how important first impressions can be.

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Let’s look at things from the attendees’s point of view:

When a first time guest walks into a church for the first time they may be: happy, anxious, worried, lost, angry, frustrated, excited, or possibly all of the above! They  don’t know if they going to like it there, if your will provide good service, if you will be friendly or helpful. There are a lot of doubts and questions! Many attendees go in to a church for the first time actually expecting things to go badly. Some even “get ready for battle” before heading in.

So, anyone working on the front lines is supposed to do everything to make sure that they give all customers a great first impression and at the same time be sure to NOT let your first impressions of the customer in any way prevent you from delivering the best possible service. This can be a tall order sometimes.

Always make eye contact with the customer the first second they come in. Even if you are with another customer or on the phone, make eye contact and acknowledge that they are there immediately. A simple gesture tells the new person that you see them and will be right with them.

7) If all else fails Smile! Smile! Smile! Smile! Smile! Smile!

-Eddie Wilson