Thursday, February 10, 2011

Lessons from Disney

One of the things I have the privilege of doing, is working with a team of people at our church who's responsibility it is to be intentional about our guest's experience. My family just returned from a weekend vacation at Disneyland and I came away with some great reminders about just how important our experiences are. First, I believe it is most important for the church to be intentional about that and get it right. Second,how easily it can slip away from us because I also would have thought, if anyone was going to get it right it would be Disney....but there was a gap in our expectation and our experience with Disney.
Don't get me wrong, we had a great time! Our family was together, the weather in Southern California was perfect! The Disney Grand Hotel is beautiful! And who doesn't love breakfast with Goofy!
Still... I was reminded how the church can be like my Disney experience. Our vision for people and the experience they have can slip away from us. Our team talks intentionally about creating "Wow!" experiences in the church because right or wrong? People are walking in to our churches with expectations. I was reminded that one small moment, colors the entire experience for good or bad. The Disney Grand Hotel is kinda cool because you have an entrance right from the hotel in to the park called California Adventure. My husband and I were up before the kids and grandson,so we took an early stroll around outside with a cup of coffee, it was really nice and we were enjoying ourselves in the sunshine, other folks were walking around as well and there was an excitement in the morning air, we were spending the day in Disneyland! We noticed an attendant at an entrance to the park as he checked some passes and let some folks enter. Even though our kids weren't up yet, we thought well, let's just take an early stroll in to the park. That's when the attendant became a security guard. We approached, held up our annual passes (which we think are pretty cool) and here's where the encounter goes wrong. "What's that?", he asks in a very curt tone. In a flash, I'm thinking, really? You work here and you don't know what this is? But I answer his question with a question anyway. "It's our annual pass?" Because really at this point it feels like we must be doing something "wrong", we aren't doing it on purpose, really we only realize we are "wrong" because he made us feel, very small, remember we're just on a stroll! Very abruptly,the attendant now turned guard informs us that the people he allowed in ahead of us had some special kind of pass, that the park is not open yet, and he made it very clear, we weren't so special! Same day an encounter of a different kind and...another lesson. Our kids want to have their caricature drawn by one of the Disney artists. She apologizes and explains the wait time, as she is in the middle of another drawing and the other artist is at lunch. Easy to understand, its about a 20 minute wait she explains, as she looks fondly at our two-year old grandson, she conveys that she understands this is a significant wait for the little guy, but then she says, "Is that okay? because I would really love to draw your family". Now we feel special again! So, I'm reminded that we are all responsible for the guest experience, that right or wrong people have expectations especially, when there is a brand promise attached and it takes the whole team to deliver.
People will have an experience in our church, lets decide together what that's going to look like.
"When they develop their pictures what do we want to show up in their photo albums? Cuz, we're responsible for what shows up there". Walt Disney

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