Train your customers as employees

I was watching a video over at the Harvard Business Review and they were talking about how Starbucks did a good job of training their customers to act as employees. Anne Morriss (aside from having too many letters in both of her names) gave the example of this training when she recounted the experience that many have had at Starbucks.

I’m sure you’ve experienced this, or did, perhaps several years ago. You walk in to your local Starbucks and say you want a “small cold blended coffee” and they shout back “short coffee frappuccino.”

“Oh no, I got the names wrong.” the power of this is that Starbucks, if you knew it or not, was educating you. They even call it out again when your drink is ready. You have to acknowledge that “yes, I have the short coffee frappuccino” when you walk over to pick it up. No one likes to be corrected in public.

It’s actually a form of brainwashing, and it’s genius. Now you are an insider, or you really want to be. You’ll go back to Starbucks because you get it right, you know the secret lingo, you earned your place within the organization.

I think church can be the same way, though not quite as sinister. 😉

We have our own names for stuff “the Lord’s supper, baptism, Sunday School, sanctuary, foyer, quarterly…” and that’s okay. Each church should have their own identity and that comes with specific names for specific things.

We all make fun of Starbucks “short, tall, grande, venti…” but we also all recognize the Starbucks culture. So, if your church calls it the “worship center” and someone says “where’s the sanctuary” simply reply (nicely) “our worship center is that way.” You’re not overtly correcting them, but you’re also protecting your “brand” and helping them to realize the “insider information.”

Does it matter that you call it a “worship guide” in stead of a “bulletin?” No, neither one is in the New Testament, but it does give someone a feeling (be it ever so slight) if they say “hey, now I know what to call it.” They’ve become a part of the team and built a little more loyalty to your organization.

It takes clear vision and clear communication among your leadership to let people know “we’re going to call it _____ and not _____” but it can be done. Let your church be uniquely you!

About John Harris

I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
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