There is a business that my wife and I have used since moving to Adrian, Missouri, almost six years ago. The people who work there usually do good work, and they have not disappointed me, and yet, we are thinking of taking our business elsewhere.
The significant change that is driving us away is not the quality of the work or even the price. It is the lady who works at the front desk. There have been four different people who have sat there in the past years, and each one had a very different personality. The first three were very friendly and had excellent people skills. The first would call me by name and smile and ask me about the Church I lead. The second one was always smiling and kind in her quiet way. The third was more direct but always treated me with respect.
Then they hired a new lady. She is younger than all the rest, and I imagine that factors into her demeanor. Honestly, her personality is causing me to want to change businesses. She seems to have no clue who I am each time I walk in and ask for help, even though I am there frequently. Her words are short and condescending. Often, I have to wait for her to put her phone down to make eye contact with me. She doesn’t listen carefully to what I am telling her, and so some of the work I need does not get done. My experiences with her are making it difficult for me to continue using this particular business.
During this time, the quality of work has not changed. The rest of the people who work there have not changed. The price is still the same. Not one single difference other than the lady who works at the front desk.
I tell you all this because it has implications for the local Church. Each week I can preach the best sermon, prepare a touching worship set, and deliver a high-quality experience. Our worship team can practice and lead songs that are inspiring with heartfelt prayers and excited demeanor. Our children’s ministries can have the most fun and educational time during the worship program. Everything can be perfectly prepared and planned, but if the people that guests first encounter are rude, have an ugly attitude, or ignore their needs. Nothing else matters.
This reality starts in the parking lot with how people interact before they reach the front door. It includes our formal greeters at the door. The people standing in the lobby are also involved. The people that guests first encounter, many times, will be the determining factor in whether those people will return.
The lady at the front desk is killing a local business, in my opinion. My prayer is that everyone in the Church will understand the importance of being a positive first contact. Together we will make an impact for God one interaction at a time.