Elevate Community: What Would You Like Me To Say?

April 23, 2012

Building Relationships

A couple of months ago I celebrated my birthday.  That meant a bunch of emails and text messages from family and friends, birthday cards arriving in the mail, as well as a full Facebook wall of “happy birthday” messages from close and even not-so-close acquaintances.  Birthdays are supposed to be a big deal!

Yet, while a lot of companies out there know about my birthday, only one took the time to send a free drink postcard in the mail to celebrate my birthday.  My free Venti Cappuccino was delicious.  Thank you Starbucks for making me feel special!  By the way, I’d also like to share with you that this perk is reserved only for people who register on the My Starbucks Rewards website.  Check it out!

I actually learned a valuable lesson from Starbucks.  If you want someone to feel special, do something special for them.  If you’d like that person to tell others about you, do something special for them that’s worth repeating to others.   Both will create customer satisfaction and strengthen relationships with the customer.  According to customer service expert Dennis Snow, the process of strengthening customer relationships is a very simple process and it starts with answering two simple questions.

I’d like to take a look at these two questions and discuss how they might apply to strengthening relationships and developing community within a special needs ministry.  Even as I’m blogging this article, our Special Friends Development Team is brainstorming the answers to these two questions as it applies to our families with kids with special needs at First Baptist Orlando.

Snow’s first question:  “What do you want customers to say about your company?”  Rephrased, the question we’re asking is,

“What are the two comments that we want our parents to say about our special needs ministry?”  

In order to answer this questions our Team is attempting to put ourselves into the shoes of our parents.  We want to identify two things a parent would say that would be a measurable indicator that our ministry is moving in the right direction when it comes to strengthening relationships and developing community.  Here are two parent-comments that we’ve identified:

  • “The Special Friends Ministry makes my family feel welcomed.”
  • “The Special Friends Ministry cares about how we are doing.”

One you have defined the two things that you’d like your parents to say, it then becomes fairly easy to define the behaviors that will cause parents to say those things.  That’s fairly simple, isn’t it.  Determine what you want people to say about your ministry because then you can identify the specific behaviors that produce the comments!

That leads us to the second question posed by Snow, “What employee behaviors would lead customers to say those things?”  Rephrased, the question our Development Team is asking is,

“What are the volunteer behaviors that would lead parents to say those comments we identified?”

So for example, if we want a parent to say, “They made my family feel welcomed” then we need to identify staff/volunteer behaviors such as:  warmly greeting a parent as soon as they walk into our room with a hug or a handshake, letting them know that “It’s so good to see you here today!”  Even if you’re with another parent, at least give me a signal that you know they are there.   At a minimum, eye contact and a smile is all it takes.  Let them know when they enter your room that they are more important than your paperwork or more important than chatting with another volunteer.

Remember, once you’ve identified what you want parents to say about your ministry then it becomes more clear what the behaviors need to be that will causes parents to say those things.  This is a simple yet effective two-step process that can help to Elevate Community.

For example, if you want a parent to say, “They care about how we are doing” then engaging in behaviors like calling a parent mid-week and asking how things are going would be important.  Or before a parent picks up their child, perhaps asking them if there are any prayer requests they’d like to share.  An email, follow-up call, or a handwritten note that you can mail communicates that you’re thinking about them other than just on Sundays.

  • “The Special Friends Ministry makes my family feel welcomed.”
  • “The Special Friends Ministry cares about how we are doing.”

I know that if parents say these two things about our special needs ministry, it will be an indicator that we are successfully building stronger relationships and creating community.  Our ministry will be walking the talk.  And it started by asking two simple questions:

  • “What are the two comments that we want our parents to say about our special needs ministry?”  
  • “What are the volunteer behaviors that would lead parents to say those comments we identified?”

If you’d like to follow the other posts related to the topic of Elevate Community make sure that you “subscribe” to our blog or “like” us on our Facebook page!

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About Michael Woods

Christ-follower, husband, chocoholic, and peanut-butter lover! I'm a father to triplet boys...each on the autism spectrum.

View all posts by Michael Woods

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