Published: 3 years ago

Mixed Signals

I recently read Chip Bell’s latest book, Sprinkles: Creating Awesome Experiences Through Innovative Service. One of Bell’s standout quotes dealt with a switchup in signals that can plague a guest / customer / client of any organization:

Colorful service involves integrating all the sensory elements of a serving experience so they are congruent around a compelling story, theme, or vision. The secret is attention to minute details because the customer’s brain can pick up any dissonant signal or symbol.

We humans favor symmetry. Our psyche reads dissonance in an experience long before our logical mind comprehends a reason. Far more than the urge to level a crooked picture or the recognition that something is off on the melody we hear, dissonance reaches even to ideas out of alignment with our beliefs.

Dissonance will derail an experience. The fight against dissonance is the reason you’ll never see Buzz Lightyear walking through Walt Disney World’s Frontierland. It’s why Target won’t sell Sam’s Choice brand cola. And it’s why you notice the one kid wearing Carolina blue in the student section at Duke (assuming he even survives long enough to get there).

So what are the risks of dissonance – or the mixed signals – we face in our churches?

  • It’s the marquee that proudly proclaims “We love our guests!” yet there’s no plan for your arrival.
  • It’s the push to get into a small group, yet a lack of groups you can actually, easily join.
  • It’s the canned welcome from the stage, yet no one in the crowd acknowledges your presence.
  • It’s the fake smile, the rush-to-move-on-to-someone-else conversation, the bless your heart veneer that barely covers someone’s veiled attempt to talk to you.

What are the areas of dissonance in your weekend experience? What are the stated values that are out of alignment with the actual reality? Until what we say matches up with what we do, our guest experience will fall short.

Related post: Find Their Affinity


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