Sunday, December 14, 2014

@Saddleback Airlines

Family illnesses have kept us home a few times recently from church.  The first time, we intended to gather in the kitchen and watch our church's live stream, only it turned out that they weren't broadcasting that morning.  So we thought we'd try Overlake, dragged the laptop into the living room, connected it to the TV but it kept buffering and stuttering.  So had the idea to look to see if Saddleback was on Roku.  It was, and it streamed great with no interruptions.

I've had a fascination with Saddleback but never attended a service there.  I was there once for a conference that featured Rick Warren (but he was oddly enough, simulcast from Texas for his part) and another time my boss and I were supposed to meet with the IT team from Saddleback but we drove separately and when I got there I couldn't find my boss and he wasn't picking up his cell or wasn't getting coverage or something so after an hour and a half of wandering around and driving around the campus, I went home.  At that job, some of us felt like Saddleback was something to aspire to, something we could learn from, so we regularly visited their website and observed how they were approaching different online elements.  So, never had attended a service there, but have always wanted to learn more.

So now we've "attended Saddleback" twice recently via Roku, sitting on the couch in our living room.  This morning as it started, there was a welcome video.  Two personable people appeared in front of a white background in a well-planned, rehearsed, scripted short video.  It welcomed people to the church, explained a few things and then spent a few minutes introducing one of the ministries: Counseling.  It first explained how it worked and how you could take advantage of it if you needed counseling or someone to talk to.  And then it shifted gears and talked about how it was only possible with lots of volunteers and the training they'd receive and stuff.  And then the two were back on screen to wrap up the welcome and it struck me: I was watching a pre-flight video. It wasn't about how to operate a seatbelt or oxygen mask or tray table, but it was the same effect - a quick way to put people at ease and orient them to what was going on if they'd never been there before, while at the same time, being brief enough and interesting enough so as to keep people who attended regularly from tuning out or thinking it wasn't for them.  They didn't actually end with "Now, on with the show!" but they might as well have - their energy levels matched so well with the music that started as the video ended.  It was all real well done.

Does your first interaction convey who you are?

You may not handle operations or service planning for a church, but the way you introduce yourselves to new visitors (to your store or website or your call center) and how you welcome your repeat visitors and regulars can't be overlooked, left to chance, or put in the hands of someone who's not trained - they must be the living embodiment of your esprit de corps - they get it, they're empowered, they're passionate, they're celebrated.  If we're talking about people, don't make them the factory you churn through with low pay and harsh regulations (timed bathroom breaks? average call times?) and if it's your website, don't assume you can always identify the new visitor from the regular.

This made me think of the quote from Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos "Zappos is a customer service company that just happens to sell shoes." There's a lot packed into that statement, more than I can go into here.  I will once again point to Simon Sinek's awesome TED Talk (18 minutes) or his book Start with Why.

If it's been more than 3 months since you took a critical look at what your initial customer/prospect experience looks like, it's time to schedule some time to (a) get reacquainted and (b) form a new team to make sure it's never again more than a few minutes since you've taken a critical look at the totality of your experience - online, offline, social, incoming, outgoing - marketing, public relations, earned media, etc., etc., etc.
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