Hug Your Customers by Jack Mitchell

May 12, 2006 by

Hug Your Customers by Jack MitchellDoes your church hug your visitors? Well, not actually physically hug your visitors—that’s fraught with touch-feely vibes and is going way too far over that safe church line—but does your church do the equivalent of hugging a visitor by making their day? Jack Mitchell, CEO of the high-end clothing retailer Mitchells/Richards, pushes this customer-first philosophy in his book Hug Your Customers.

For Mitchell it’s all about giving his customers the equivalent of a hug by going out of his way to serve them. It’s not about good customer service—it’s about amazing customer service. The standard faire doesn’t cut it. The standard customer service doesn’t get talked about and won’t bring people back.

But going above and beyond to serve the customer, that makes them happy, makes them tell their friends, makes them come back. They end up feeling like they’ve been hugged. In essence, amazing customer service is about forming a relationship with the customer. For Mitchell that means knowing them by name, knowing what styles they like and what schedule they have.

And this isn’t just sales person advice. Treating the customer like a king is something everyone in an organization should be doing, even if they don’t personally interact with the customers. That kind of deep-rooted care will show in things like how the phone is answered and how clean the bathroom is.

The obvious application is that churches need to be hugging their visitors. People should head home after church feeling so welcomed they can’t help but come back.

Church visitors expect the pastor to smile and shake their hand. They expect people to be nice. But nice and smiles isn’t anything beyond the norm. A fresh pineapple as a visitor walks out the door, however, is not normal and will be remembered.

Though it also helps to keep in mind that not every visitor wants to be welcomed by every member of the congregation. That’s a little overwhelming. That’s the wrong kind of hug. The personal part of Mitchell’s mantra means you may have to adjust your methods depending on the visitor.

Bottom line, giving visitors a “hug” is worth the effort. Mitchell’s book isn’t the most original ever, but it is a good concept for welcoming visitors and helping them become regulars.

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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4 Responses to “Hug Your Customers by Jack Mitchell”

  • charlie
    May 12, 2006

    We actually do have a hugger at our church. She’s there every services to hug you hello and goodbye. I’m not a huggy person, but she’s so cute, like the grandma I never had that I like her. :)
    On the customer service, I get creeped out by really friendly employees because I feel like they have a gun to their back to be nice to me. Like a car salesman, he’s not smiling at me, he’s smiling at my bank account.
    That said, I think churches are different because the greeters aren’t getting a commission, so they’re genuine, at least I hope so. It’s always better to be overfriendly to people. :)

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  • Ben Martin
    May 12, 2006

    I don’t like pineapple…

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  • Darren M
    May 16, 2006

    It’s a fine line you walk of knowing when to “hug” and when not to. Sales, (both secular and non-secular) is something not everyone is good at. You have to read each person individually.
    Setting the mood from the moment a visitor enters your church is the key. Don’t place people at the door who don’t want to be there. If you don’t have a greeter, then make the inside as inviting as possible.
    Remember, the church is not there for the people inside, the church exists for those on the outside.

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  • Dan
    May 18, 2006

    One part is thinking of church as your home. How would you treat people who come into your home? That’s how you should treat those who come to your church.
    I used to have a part-time job at Target. I like how they call customers “guests” and they give employees permission to stop whatever they’re doing to engage in “guest service” even to the point of telling the guest they can find what they’re looking for at another store. The idea is that if that person has a pleasant experience at Target, even if they can’t get what they want there, they will come back and they will tell their friends about it.

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