Thursday, January 12, 2012

Great Customer Service!

Today I had an appointment with the Apple store. My Mac book needed a minor repair and Gail's power adapter needed a replacement. It was my first visit to Apple since purchasing the laptop a year and a half ago, which is good since it is 75 miles away!

Some observations, then some thoughts about CS in my chosen field.
  • An appointment is required. This can be done online, so it's very easy. They tell you what's available and you choose the time that is most convenient for you. You can also let them know the nature of the visit so they can be prepared.
  • Upon entering the store I noticed it was very busy, but the employee to customer ratio was very high...maybe 1:2. Almost immediately upon entering a friendly, outgoing Apple associate (I don't know what they call their employees) asked me if she could help me. I didn't have to go looking for her. She noticed me, even though she was already engaged with someone else. I did not see one blue-shirted employee not serving a customer.
  • On her Ipad she found my appointment. I was almost 30 minutes early and they were "running on time", which meant it might take that long before I would be seen by someone from the "Genius Bar". Their lingo for tech support. So she offered to let the know (via the Ipad) that I was there, and to give them a description of me ("handsome, graying with stunning blue eyes", I'm sure) and when a "genius" was available he would find me. No standing in line. I was free to roam about the store. I declined to hang around because I had one other item to take care of in the mall, but would return in plenty of time.
  • Ten minutes before my appointment I approached the "Genius Bar" where a young man was finishing up for an earlier customer. Seeing me, he immediately asked how he could help me. He found my appointment on his Ipad and said he would be right with me...which he was.
  • In short order I was walking out of the store. As I left, the young lady I originally met saw me and told me she had let them know I was back. That meant she remembered I had come in earlier. I said, "Thanks! I've been taken care of and am on my way out."

This is not the kindest thing to say, but I've visited churches who don't have a clue about Customer Service. I'm not talking about church members who expect others to serve and wait on them...they certainly don't get it. But in my travels I've had the unfortunate experiences of being a guest and being ignored.

Church leaders perhaps should venture out more and find out how others either accomplish or utterly fail when it comes to welcoming guests. To some people there is nothing more frightening than to wander into a strange building, where perhaps you know not a soul. Making that even more uncomfortable is when, not a soul offers to get to know you.

One church my wife and I visited had multiple buildings with no signage. So we picked one, found out it was the children's ministry building and asked where we belonged. Another church, known for its pastor's excellent teaching, was as cold as ice. The only greeting or acknowledgment we received was from the guy handing us a bulletin at the door. Still at another we arrived a bit early. The doors were all solid wood and closed. The windows were all stained glass so we could see nothing inside. Again, no signage or evidence where the main entrance might be. For all we knew the door we were about to open led to the pulpit. And no one was posted there.

I get the impression that some churches either don't really expect anyone new to try them out. And for good reason.

My belief is that the church, the family of God, the body of Christ is commissioned to share Good News that much of the world, including my community, has not yet heard. And if guests show up (and we should encourage the church to invite and bring their unchurched friends) we should act like we're both ready for them and expecting them. It should be our desire for their first time (and subsequent visits) to be the most welcoming experience ever.

After all, our Savior said, "Whosoever will may come". If they show up, apparently it's for a great reason. Let's let them know we're glad, for eternity's sake, that they did. Let's let them be glad as well. If we do, there's a great chance they'll be back.

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