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7 seconds…that is how much time you have to make a first impression. Some experts say more, some say less…but most pundits would agree that seven seconds is the average time you have to make a first impression. Think about that. That is not much time.
There are dozens of posts on the internet that will give you hints to best utilize these 7 seconds when going to a job interview or making a sales call. But the same principle applies to the guests at our churches. Have you ever thought that your guests are looking at their experience in much the same way they might evaluate a “buying” decision? They are the “buyer” and they are interviewing/investigating you…your church…your ability to meet their needs…your ability to fill a role in their life. As we talked about a couple weeks ago, these first time guests are most likely approaching this guest experience from a consumeristic perspective. Don’t get defensive when I say that…it is a reality.
So what can you do in those first 7 seconds to influence their experience? I actually believe that a guest to your church will have multiple “7 second” encounters, unless the first 7 seconds is too painful or unfulfilling to lead them to the next interaction.
“So what can you do in those first 7 seconds to influence their experience?”
Here are the areas that I believe we should be cognitive of:
- The parking lot experience – We will address this more next week, but we need to be aware that if this is a challenge and their first 7 seconds on your site are frustrating, they may not stay…or if they do…you will already have one strike against you and their experience will be veiled by this first encounter.
- Where do I go now? – Way-finding and signage are too often under-whelming which can add to the anxiety of our guests.
- What door do I go in? – Guests do not want to ask questions and do not respond well to ambiguousness…they like obvious.
- Hey! Hi! Welcome to ____. – The first person to visually, verbally, and physically interact with them can definitely have the greatest impact on the experience.
- We have been preparing our house for your visit – As they step into your facility, will a guest see that you have been intentional about their arrival? Are things clean, neat, inviting, engaging, well maintained with a sense pride (in a good way)?
- Now what? – So, I am here…now what? Where do I go? Where do my kids go? Where can I go hang?
We are going to look at many of these aspects in the weeks to come…but I challenge you to visit some other churches in your area and feel what it is like to be the guest. Then ask a non-believer to be a visitor at your church and then report back to you about each of their 7 second experience at all of these connection points. Seeing these interaction opportunities with fresh eyes can be telling. Don’t squander those 7 seconds. Be intentional. Be deliberate. And, be consistent.
Check out our book, Why Church Buildings Matter. Church facilities will not save a person from a life of sin and frustration. But the lack of attention to the church campus can indeed be the road block to reaching those people that need to hear the gospel message the most. Don’t minimize their impact. This book will reveal how to maximize your church facility to share the greatest story ever told, the gospel.