A customer-centered theology for your digital ministries helps all aspects of your church. When you put the organization first, you put your customers second. I know you need resources to function. Yet, when you put your customers first, you will succeed in maturing your existing congregation as well as adding to it. The best part is that your digital ministries can help create a customer-centered theology. This is because digital assets, once created, can be copied and shared indefinitely. But that is just the beginning of all the ways you can better serve your audiences.
The first thing you need to do is determine success criteria. What goals are you trying to achieve, and what will it resemble when you do it? I wrote several articles about determining return on investment. Check them out, and determine what winning looks like for your team. Then select your measurable criteria and start collecting data. But this time, be sure that those criteria relate to your audience and not a goal for your church. For example, this could mean a focus on increasing involvement rather than generating revenue.
Give Things Away
I have seen churches give gifts to first-time visitors. Depending on the nature of the gift, it is often a wise idea. It is typically something inexpensive. But if it is something they will display or see often, it will remind them of their visit and prompt them to return. It may also prompt conversation if someone else sees it and inquires about it. Can your website do something similar? Digital downloads are inexpensive to give away multiple times. Items such as eBooks and digital music are helpful for new Christians. They may want more teaching & guidance, especially if they are a new believer. Ask them to sign up for an email list with content specifically designed for new believers. A powerful worship song may remind them of the experience they had in your church. Attempt to connect physical experiences to these digital gifts.
Solve Customer Problems
"Where is your restroom?" is a common question your ushers deal with. You can solve this problem two ways. You can train ushers and other staff on giving good directions. Or you can post better signs in your church. Obviously allowing visitors to find the restrooms on their own is the best course of action. Similarly with websites, focus on the customer problems first. Give directions before you ask for donations. Offer help before you invite to become a member. Structure your website so that you answer a visitor or member's questions before you toss a call to action at them. The "Join Now", "Please Give", and "Register Here" buttons are the last course of action. Focus on solving your customer's problems first, and meeting the needs of your church second.
Partner with other churches
When the Church unites in a common cause, the results can be staggering. Consider the following. Boy Scouts is big in your town. Yet for some reason, your Vacation Bible School has to occur the same week as a Boy Scouts day camp. Another church you have good relations with has their VBS the following week. Are you going to lose members if you mention this event? Probably not. If the churches partner, they ensure the majority of their children enjoy a week making friends & learning about God. The same applies to your online ministries. Have your digital and leadership teams meet to agree to some mutually beneficial terms. Sharing social media posts and promoting events strengthens your communities and furthers the Gospel. Plus it shows you are putting your people first and any political or denominational biases second.
Good customer service goes a long way. It could be training your ushers to be the friendliest people around. You may want to improve your signs and directions within your church. Or it could be meeting your digital audience's needs. This could be daily devotionals, weekly sermon recording, or a monthly newsletter. Regardless, focus on serving the flocks entrusted to you. When that happens, the needs of the church should fall into place.
Note: This article was inspired by two sources:
- A lecture by Matt Perman from the Biola Digital Ministry Conference
- An interview with Aaron Gustafson on The Big Web Show podcast
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