I am not invisible and should not be made to feel I am.
I’m working at a Panera Bread this morning. I had a meeting in Ft. Worth last evening, and Rachel has one this morning, so we spent the night here with a friend to save gas and mileage.
I stood at Register Row in Panera Bread for a while before an employee paused to direct me to the register that was open. Seeing no line, I walked right up to the two employees who were deep in some sort of conversation. I had been visible to them as I walked past them toward the larger collection of registers.
I was still visible to them as I stodd there hoping to order coffee. Several seconds past, and the one directly in front of the register acknowledged my existence and asked if she could help me. The other one kept talking to her. Apparently their conversation about other people (whose names I have forgotten) was more important to him than was this customer who ostensibly wanted to spend some money.
I ordered, paid, got my own coffee, and sat down. I’m glad I had eaten breakfast at iHop next door. There I had been greeted by a friendly hostess who also turned out to be my server. She was quick to bring my coffee, take my order, and just interested enough in me to make sure I had what I wanted. (which didn’t include, this time, cheeky conversation with the staff – some staff at some restaurants don’t get this – that customers don’t always come to their establishment to talk to THEM)
Ever since my training days at a very well run McDonald’s, I have been a big fan of customer service done well. These days I almost always translate such experiences into things the church can and should learn.
Guests and visitors to your congregation are not exactly customers, but they are looking for appropriate levels of our (people of the church) being interested in them. Most do not want to be surrounded and hounded with questions, as though the congregation were papparazzi. Most do, however, enjoy being welcoming into a congregation and into conversation.
They don’t want to be made to feel invisible any more than you and I do.