Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Can We Fire Our Youth Group?

I don't know how many timess I've asked this question but most often have agreed with it and in some cases have done it. What sparks this rant? An article from one of my marketing mentors Seth Godin. Here is his blog and then I shall attempt to close the gap.


Treating different customers differently

I've gotten a lot of email about: Sprint may cancel your service if you call customer service too often.

Apparently, about 1,000 people got this note. They weren't delinquent in their bills, but they were calling in and complaining approximately 25 times a month.

If you're going to be obsessed with delighting customers, it's a lot more efficient to focus on customers that are able to be delighted. That sounds like a tautology, but it's actually a guiding principle for successful businesses. Hire nice people and attract satisfiable, gabby customers. Why not?

These 1000 people were actually happy to be unhappy. They were unpleasable, and they weren't helping either word of mouth or the ability of the call center folks to do good work.

I think the mistake Sprint made was in only giving people one day's notice. I probably would have given them a month or so... Turns out Sprint even gave them one month's notice.

What would happen if you fired (nicely) the very few customers that take your best effort but rarely appreciate it or spread the word?


Ok, now for me to start cutting wood and building a bridge. Sprint basically sent a Dear John letter to these 1000 customers apologizing that they could not meet there needs. These 1000 customers were fired.

So, how about our students or church members? Can we fire them? I say yes and in many cases should. I know I stand on shaky ground because many of us have received pay checks from these cranky people who call the church office 10 times a month to complain about everything from the bushes to the baptismal services, from the parking to the preaching and then some. I echo with many car lots who say, "Let'em, go." The damage that disgruntled parishoners, founded or unfounded, inflict upon a church is incalculable. Like termites in an all cedar house they will eat away at everything and suddenly and with out warning the house (and the church) collapses. How did this happen? We did not let them go soon enough.

It would be better to call these folks into the office and allow the conversation to go something like this

Pastor" " Mr. and Mrs. so and so thank you for the time you have spent here at First Church. I'm sorry to see you go but I wish you well on your search for a new church."

Mr and Mrs So and So: "But we're not looking for a new church"

Pastor: "Oh yes you are."

Since churches are in the people business we should always try to work it out. But when communication fails it's better to wish them well rather than let them destroy the church from the inside out.

If it's youth ministry member, the same standard applies. I've had parents try to strong arm me into apologies because the youth ministry couldn't do in one hour a week that their dysfunctional family should have done the whole time. I wished them well, caught hell at the office and then went on my merry way.

When we're no long addicted to the paycheck and we're serious about making disciples we'll do what is necessary for the health and well being of our congregations.

Let the Sparks fly!!

Paul Turner


Alana said...

Amen!! I think this is now one of my most favorite things you have written...good timing! I think I shall print and post this down the hallways and see what sparks fly then!! J/K

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