Have you ever served in a "people business" before, like in real estate, or an upscale restaurant, or at a high-end hotel or in an excellent para-church or local church ministry (and I don't at all mean to business-ify a church for that is family and calls for family lingo)? It's really a lot of fun and the people keep it interesting. I love their various stories. Personally, I've had the opportunity to serve in all of the above, but I still have a lot to learn and the Lord keeps helping me. He's the expert.
It's been my aim and prayer, no matter how grand or trendy or fancy-schmancy the place is, that our guests leave more impressed with the service and kindness they recieve, than how they felt when they arrived looking at whatever type of temporal facility.
I'm sure it can be a challenge at times for any employee or leader at any location, to reach such a goal, but we all can do our best. If we are believers, then we especially need to do our best as unto Christ to glorify Him instead of "us." And we indeed can encourage each other to this end, yup, towards giving extra value in spreading His light and His warmth with true hospitality.
Perhaps you've travelled some before. Perhaps you have run into a rude staff in different churches or hotels etc. Maybe you've run into a pretentious snooty staff, or an incompetent staff that couldn't even handle a basic task well. What do you think when you leave such a place? Is it like.. Note-written-to-self or to TripAdvisor.com: Never ever stay at that place! (Of course, you know you won't stay at that establishment again).
The numero uno reason for a customer, guest, congregant.. to reject returning to a certain store, hotel, restaurant or church is due to a staff member's weird attitude or indifference. Who can't feel it? Ever work with someone puffed up, or apathetic, or who had an attitude of entitlement? How do ya like that?
Basically, what should you be like if you serve in the hospitality industry or any people business/ministry? What quickly comes to your mind? I would encourage you to keep Jesus Christ first for there are many temptations especially when lots of people are involved. And choose to be a genuine people-loving individual who is:
· Reliable.. and
"Duh," you might say! "Kurt, all that is a no-brain-er, concierge dude."
I say have the fruit of the Spirit in Christ rather than being merely religious. Remember this. Never allow your ego to become bigger than your calling or career-purpose, no matter how many people around you allow that to happen. Hopefully none will as we intercede for them. Choose to be exemplary as a person of eternal purpose instead of allowing the pride to get in your way.
Ok, here are my so called "ten keys" (among many other keys) for all of us to apply…
1. Make eye contact and always give a warm greeting with those pearly-whites of yours (yes, a big enthusiastic smile). Never hurts. Travellers wanna meet locals who give a flip. It makes their day and their stay. I've never met even one that feels like being greeted by some robotic-ally nerdy-nerd display board ..and those high tech lobby-boards probably do have their place. Who knows, audio greetings on those things might soon arrive via a built-in Android app, but I believe that human gestures like I mentioned, from real human volunteers or committed paid workers will always be appreciated more. Will an upscale hotel or restaurant actually be able to call itself "upscale" minus humans serving in the foyer or lobby? Maybe one day, but that day is still off in the distant future. That warm personal touch, recommendation, corroboration, edification, chit chat about local hot spots—that's what I myself love most when I travel.. especially when the employee (a friend I've gained) remembers my name or possibly something I said about my family ..or about my dog, Roxy. Priceless!
2. Listen attentively to the patron's (person's) heart or request or root need behind their request ..with discernment and understanding. Part of my duty has always been "matching" (in counseling or in secular work) and that often takes a few careful questions to the guest, just to make sure I know exactly what the guest desires or does not desire. Can I find a passage or verse that would fit and properly build them up? We all can learn the right questions for our respective departments, to respectfully ask our visitors (quests) without getting too personal. I'd rather be a sharp-shooter than a shot-gunner with polite questions and responses. How can I live.. how can I share Christ and His truth that they need to hear most..or should I just shut up and be there for them while they hurt, celebrate, etc? Being tactful has to do with making a point and hearing ideas an preferences, without making an enemy. Where selfless hospitality begins evangelism or discipleship can join in, at some locations of service or employment. On other job sites they require you to first sign a promissory agreement first to never share your faith on their property, or you'll be released simple as that. Let God lead you in where you work and do your best to honor those in authority so that you glorify Him while shining brightly, instead of being fired for verbally witnessing when you should be working. Too many get fired for being lazy or religiously foolish "in the Name of Jesus." But I say never be afraid to work hard, or to rephrase Scripture when you can in certain places while keeping the meaning of the text accurate. Don't be afraid to rephrase what you think the visitor is asking for ..or to ask them to repeat their wishes so that you're absolutely correct in your assessment. Know before they go.
3. Be sure to anticipate the visitor or guest's subsequent needs that could be connected to their original request. You can ask, "Would you like for me to set up some economical or luxury transportation for your group to and from that restaurant (retreat, field trip etc) as well?", or "After shopping all day, you might have quite an appetite. Have you had the pleasure or chance to try some of the excellent restaurants on the property? You indeed know it would be my pleasure to get you in at the best." Your leaders should know how this would work at your locale, but keep in mind that you never need to have wrong motives, methods, or in any way compromise spiritually just to serve people in a hospitable manner. Never. Wisely appeal to your boss if he or she pressures you to sin, but don't cave even for your boss.
4. If a guest ever says "Thank you", consider that as an extra bonus and respond by saying something like, "You are so welcome. You're satisfaction is of course my top goal." (check it out tipped employees, this kind of attitude might just help when the bills need to be paid).
5. Any staff member who receives a complaint needs to "own" that specific complaint until it is made right. I mean don't pass em off like a sack of trash because that is how they would feel. You know what I mean. Personally, I sure ain't perfect. I'm a learner, and that means that I aim to profit from all that I experience (learning) towards perfecting my skills inside churches and in the marketplace. But it also means I unfortunately could make a few mistakes at times, or my co-workers or fellow ministers could, though we all do our best to avoid them. I say that everything I've ever done wrong ..was my fault, not a neighbour's fault. Wanna make the mistake into my stepping stone rather than tombstone. I want to be a stepping stone for others instead of a stumbling block. There's just no room for carnal living or blame-shifting today. We all are responsible for ensuring congregant growth or customer satisfaction if you will—we're in this together. Gone are the days of "Hey, I'm outta here. Got other things to do. This is not my department or section." We've all heard a lot about being a "team player," but this is the area where the rubber meets the road. It isn't always easy working with needy people that are saved or spiritually lost, but God can make it a huge joy for you. We do it for Him who served and died for all people, not willing that any should perish.
"Things turn out the best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out." ~ UCLA Coach, John Wooden
8. Take responsibility for your own attitude, body language, behaviour, deeds, and communication. Do your homework in these areas before you arrive in your department at church or work. Everyone will be glad you did.
9. When things go wrong, forget lame excuses, whining, and fault finding. Just tell the truth. Look on the positive but realistic side, and be careful not to offer up any glib cliches or cavalier remarks that really don't help, comfort or better the situation. Always try your best, without being afraid to blunder. Stay (or get) in the Word. Be wisely cautious. If what you do is done in good faith and your efforts are sincerely intended to put the guest's needs at the forefront, then I believe it will all work out for the good, and advance the collective cause.
10. A pleasant farewell (again, using the guest's name if at all possible, for they are a person rather than a number..) or hug at church because we "are family".. and remembering to say, "Thank you for your visit (or business). We do look forward to serving you again soon" ..is equally as important here as our initial "Welcome! How are you?"