First impressions and customer service has always been a big deal to me. I believe it’s a massive contribution to what separates good from great, especially in today’s world.
I’ve always been a fan of getting rid of the counter that separates an employee from a customer, a guest from a ticket agent, a new family from a church check-in volunteer, and the list could go on. There is something about a counter that has always represented a barrier between me and the person I’m trying to build a relationship with that has bothered me. I say that having been a part of several church build-outs requesting a counter for first-time guest check-in. Now, every time I see those counters I get so frustrated because I think it sends the wrong message. It unintentionally sends a message that we’re not doing this together, that we’re not in relationship. It’s the reason why on the last church build-out I was a part of I got rid of the counter and created kiosks where our volunteers would stand next to families.
I thought it was so cool when I walked into our local Home Depot. They had recently gone through a renovation and removed all the counters–barriers–separating their employees from their customers. They have no check-out counters. Instead, they have check-out kiosks. They even got rid of the counters that separated their customer service employees from customers. So, when you have questions, need to return an item or pick something up, etc. the employees are standing with the customers without a barrier between them.
This sends a message of respect, care and relationship that is desperately needed in our world. For the employee, it makes them more vulnerable because they have nothing to hide behind. For the customer, it makes them feel more valued, less of a customer and more of friend.
As you look at your ministry spaces, think of ways to do away with barriers.