Can Churches Learn From the Apple Store?

In a response I received to this post, I was asked if there were any ways the Church could/should be more like the Apple Store. Not being an expert in either Apple products, or necessarily in churches, I decided to offer my opinion anyway.

1.  The Apple store only sells a few things, but all of them are of high quality. Perhaps many churches should cut back on the number of “products” they offer; (i.e., not so many various ministries or activities), and focus only on A) things they can actually do very well, and B) things that actually matter.

2.  As I pointed out in the earlier post, the Apple store excelled at customer service. Here’s where the comparison gets a little dicey with churches, because church members/attendees aren’t “customers,” and church goals aren’t necessarily to give customers everything they want. However, behind Apple’s superior customer service was a simple attitude – notice what the problem is (i.e., long lines), and do something creative, quickly, to solve it. Many other businesses, even competitors of Apple, would be perfectly fine with making people wait. However, Apple saw this as an opportunity to solve a problem and set themselves apart from the competition at the same time.

 Sometimes churches need a little help in diagnosing what their problems are, and a little kick in the rear to move quickly and creatively to solve those things. And like it or not, churches have competitors – there are other places people would rather commit themselves to than church. Churches need to excel and give people reasons to check them out.

3.  The Apple store just plain looks good. Everything about the design says, “We have something great here, and we’re confident in it. You should be confident in it, too.” Churches need to give a lot of attention to detail – people make decisions based on first impressions.

4.  Along the lines of first impressions, churches could learn something from the Apple greeter people. They were  friendly, they were dressed cool, and were extremely knowledgeable about the products being offered. Their goal was to help the customer get exactly what he/she needed. Likewise, the position of “church greeter” should not be an “entry-level” place to serve and help out. There are other ways to plug new people into service, and that’s great. But, greeters are  the first people visitors see. They need to know what they’re doing, and they need to look like they know what they’re doing.

5.  Lastly – communication was certainly a big deal for Apple. The greeters weren’t promising anything that the other people couldn’t deliver. They knew the procedures – they knew what would happen with the customer once the customer was referred to the line. They didn’t send people to the wrong line, or promise something the store didn’t have. Communication among the various positions is probably the most important facet of a church, especially on a Sunday morning (or whenever the main event happens). The right people need to be informed of the right things, so everyone can smoothly do what they need to do.

Well – without thinking about it too much, those are my Apple/Church lessons. What do you think?

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