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Woulda. Coulda. Shoulda.

Updated: May 21, 2019

I walked through the Main Entrance doors of a large church on a Sunday morning recently and there was not a greeter in sight. Supposed to be? Yes. We worship there often, so we know the routine. Did the intended but, in this case, unimplemented plan improve any first-time guest’s experience as he walked through the unattended door? No.

A breakdown in the system occurred. What happened? Did somebody just walk away from their assignment momentarily? Maybe. Did someone fail to show up and not have a replacement? DON’T KNOW.

What woulda been, coulda been, shoulda been (viz., a greeter at the door welcoming guests) didn’t really matter, after the fact, for the first-time guest or a returning guest on the day of their visit. Too late! Too bad!

It was a noticeable gaffe… a fly in the ointment. Large church or small, there are plenty of flies to go around. Stuff happens! Guest services team members forget their assignment date, or they get sick; they may become distracted in the performance of their duties and the next thing you know a yawning gap appears in the process…

· No greeter at the door

· No hot coffee ready to serve

· Not enough handouts available

· No one to assist with child check-in

You get the picture! The effective guest service sequence designed on paper limps to a halt. Woulda, coulda, shoulda can’t make up for what didn’t happen!

Just in case you have had moments like that, here are some practical tips:

MONITOR. Even the best car rolling off the dealer lot needs someone to monitor its operation. E.g., somebody must pay attention to the fuel gauge lest the car eventually runs out of gas and leaves the motorist stranded on the roadside.

Do your Sunday morning guest services have someone that monitors its operation? Do you have someone that prevents an empty guest services tank occurring on Sunday morning? Do you have eyes on the guest processes on Sunday morning in a way that assures it is working as intended (i.e., not under-implementing or omitting important tasks)?

Stranding guests can be avoided with a monitored guest service practice in place.

RECHARGE. When I was a kid, we had rubber-band balsa airplanes. It was a simple little toy that required winding the rubber-band to store up energy by turning the propeller. When released, the prop would spin and the plane would fly --- well, for about 4-5 seconds. Then it would crash to the ground and sometimes break into pieces. After reassembling the pieces, the process started all over again, winding up the rubber band for another flight. Any kid would know the routine: rewinding the rubber band was just part of it.

In the same way, it is important to know that guest services don’t fly indefinitely without assistance; someone must continually recharge the system for upcoming Sunday flights. The energy for effective guest services inevitably wanes and you know what happens next… somebody is out of place, workers take short cuts, and things get sloppy.

Make it a practice to gather all your guest services personnel routinely. Thank them for their faithfulness; renew with them the vision of guest services; reassemble any broken pieces; demonstrate how the team makes a difference. Ensure the next flight is a good one!

BACKUP. Expect the unexpected. Even the most faithful greeter will have situations arise that disrupt the guest services plan. Here’s one: a greeter calls in on Sunday morning after throwing up all night. Then, the words: “Sorry. Can’t make it. Have to stay home.”

Good idea! One question remains though: will this leave a hole in the Sunday morning guest sequence?

Not if there is a replacement plan. Backups are possible. When the first layer of guest services encounters an emergency (or whatever), a simple phone call or two will have a trained substitute ready to step in and fill the gap.

Guests need not fall through the cracks when backup personnel fill the cracks in.

Don't let woulda, coulda, shoulda happen on your watch. When it does, be assured that other steps are more suitable than the ones which brought woulda, coulda, shoulda about. If you find yourself excusing guest glitches with that sad refrain, think about what those other steps might be. And take them! Make every Sunday count for every guest!

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda Guest Services

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