I swung by my favorite fast food place for breakfast this morning (don’t judge me. It’s Church at the Ballpark week. I need the kind of energy that can only come from a biscuit you have to unwrap.). There were a couple of missteps in my breakfast experience: I had a coupon (because I’m cheap), and the cash register device didn’t like it, so it required a bit of a wait and a manager override. And my Diet Dr. Pepper tasted strangely like regular Dr. Pepper, requiring the ol’ dump-n-ask-for-a-refill maneuver.
And yet, I’m strangely unperturbed by it (aside from documenting it in a blog post). Why? Because that’s way out of the norm for this particular place. They’re normally very fast and very accurate. I’ve been waited on by this particular team member before, and those trip ups were definitely an isolated incident. Maybe she was having a tough morning. Maybe she was a bit off of her game. Regardless, it didn’t result in any loss of my love for the company, the food, or the employees.
On the flip side, there are other businesses I frequent (fast food, sit down restaurant, retail establishment) where good service and friendly faces seem to be the outlying behavior rather than the norm. They seem to hire people exclusively on their ability to mumble and avoid eye contact. And when I do have a good experience, it’s so unusual that I feel like I have to make a big deal out of it. It’s as if a good experience is something that you reward rather than expect.
What’s the difference? Reputation. A series of very small good deeds over time builds a company’s reputation. No one thing causes my favorite hang outs to stand out. And on the opposite side, it’s not any one thing that erodes a company’s reputation. It’s a series of very small mistakes over time that breaks down the brand.
It works the same way in our churches. Most people tend to be very forgiving over isolated mistakes. We all make ’em. But let those accumulate over time, and people lose trust. Unanswered emails, connection points that fall through the cracks, and system glitches are almost irrelevant on their own. But when we let them build up, we gain a reputation for being a (forgetful / uncaring / unloving / disorganized) church.
What small deeds are you contributing today?