New Leadership Role for Churches: The Pastor of Guest Experience, With Lee West [CB26]


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Gateway Building 1

Episode Overview

Lee West is the Pastor of Guest Experiences — a very new role in the not-for-profit “church world” (as he calls it).  I was very intrigued by this role and really wanted to understand how Lee has gone about extending customer experience into faith, which is obviously a very important part of many people’s lives.

Lee has taken a very deliberate path for understanding the touch points in the church member experience — based on significant research, listening and understanding. He also brings in emotions of the church members surrounding their experience when making decisions. 

If you’re not a particularly religious person, you still might find this episode interesting. It’s a very different way to look at delivering customer experience. And hey, we probably could have done politics here (it debuts on U.S. Election Day), but this seems a lot more notable than that right now.

About Lee

Jeanne Bliss Lee WestLee West leads the Guest Experience team for Gateway Church in Scottsdale, AZ as the Guest Experience Pastor, providing strategy and initiatives for the enhancement of the guest experience to visitors and members. He believes in and relies heavily upon the collaborative team environment to complete the guest experience, as most churches utilize volunteer teams as their front line change agents. Lee loves to challenge mediocre mentalities through writing, coaching, investing in leaders, and teaching industry leaders to see things differently, dream of what could be, and push envelopes to care for people in new and innovative ways.

Everyone wants great experiences in life whether that’s through a retail shopping experience, educational experience, corporate career experience or a church experience. We all want to be served with excellence and it’s a passion of Lee’s to deliver such experiences that not only serve people, but also make their day.

Prior to his current role he has worked for Chiquita in the quality control division, GoDaddy Sales, directed the sales and marketing departments for Victory Energy, and founded WestBridge Solutions, which provides internet marketing services to real estate agents and corporations across the U.S.

The Three Zones Welcome

One of the most interesting parts of this podcast (I do encourage you to listen to the whole thing) is among the first discoveries that Lee made. He knew that impacting the first 7-10 minutes of a members’ experience as they visited the church for the first time was crucial. He was able to validate that in those first minutes, they make a decision if they will come back again or not.  So Lee set up a deliberate new experiences to establish a feeling of being welcomed and engaged in the community. And he identified the emotions to deliver in each zone.

Using customer experience approaches, he identified the new experience into three zones. And then built with volunteers who deliver them – specific actions.  

Zone 1 – the parking lot

  • Deliver the emotion of “anticipation”
  • The actions here are that they put music in the parking lot, they put food trucks in the center which they subsidize, they offer trolleys and are building ‘gateway radio”  so you can begin to immerse as you enter the experience.

Zone 2 – the common area/lobby area

  • Deliver the emotion of “order and calmness”
  • The actions here are clear signage, simple check in systems, floating greeters to really help and orient members

Zone 3 – enter the sanctuary / church

  • Deliver the emotion of “welcomed”
  • Actions: instead of conventional ushers, they train “hosts” to welcome and bring in guests, offer mints, and make sure they are situated

The “Pay It Forward” Question

I ask all my guests this one. Namely: what do you know now that you wish you knew then? Lee’s answers were interesting because in most of these episodes I’ve been talking to for-profit and non-profit CCO leaders, and this was obviously quite different. The two major things that popped out to me about Lee’s response were:

  • Look beyond churches for inspiration, actions, and tactics — since members are impacted by the entire range of the experience, you cannot limit how you learn and build your actions to just “church silos”
  • Understand that the culture of volunteers is crucial to the church. Work on knowing them, understanding what motivates them, and how to build them into leaders. Just like an enterprise CCO has internal clients (employees), so too does this role. 

We’ll be back on Thursday with a new post!

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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