When Pastors And Church Leaders Don’t Listen To Their People

Several months ago I noticed an obvious issue with how a certain aspect of ministry was being delivered at a local church.  When I brought my thoughts to the appropriate people, I was brushed aside and marginalized.  This created a sense of apathy in me.  I thought, “What’s the use.  These people will never get it.”  This church lost my passion and energy.

In a July 26th article on www.FastCompany.com David Gardner writes a great article on how Dell has reinvented itself.  It has everything to do with listening to and understanding its customers.  To read the full article, click here.

The following are the problems Dell was experiencing with my application for church environments:

  • Technical support was undermining relationships with some customers.  Church leaders, do you deliver ministry with excellence?
  • Dell was slow to respond to customer concerns.  Church leaders, do you listen to your attenders and honestly care about their concerns? 
  • They were behind the curve in providing solutions to the “issues that irritate customers most” even though Dell constantly reminded people they were committed to building a world-class company.  Church leaders, do you tell people that lost people matter to God but don’t show it?  Do you tell them excellence matters to God and inspires people while delivering sub par ministry?  How do you think your attenders feel when they hear those words?

Dell had serious issues but CEO Michael Dell is a great leader and was equally serious about finding solutions.  Here is what Dell has done as an organization.  The applications to church environments are obvious.

  • Dell created a Customer Advisory Panel (DellCAP) to glean customer insights.
  • Dell created the Dell Social Media Listening Command Center to understand how to use social media to understand customer experiences.
  • Dell created a new team called Social Outreach Services (SOS) to meet the demand of non-English speaking countries.
  • Dell allowed their business customers to share their success stories.  What is interesting is how low-key Dell was in the testimonials.  The emphasis was on the businesses and promoting their platform rather than Dell’s.
  • Dell focused on results.  When asked how Dell fixed the problem, customers did not know or care.  All they knew is they were happy.
  • Dell created stylish experiences.  Customers not only wanted a laptop that worked well.  They wanted one that was unique and distinctive.
  • Senior leadership was committed to change.  Michael Dell, himself, attended some of the DellCap meetings.  This is highly unusual for a man of his stature.
  • Senior leadership was highly informed on even the minutest details.  Michael personally displayed a deep understanding of Dell’s technology and offerings.
  • Senior leadership is passionate.  Michael is as excited about the organization as he was in his early entrepreneurial days. 

DellCap ultimately gave 2 recommendations:

  • Help customers figure out what they should buy.
  • Teach those with limited knowledge how to buy a computer that meets their needs.

Finally Gardner pointed out, “Companies can’t succeed without carefully listening to customer problems, quickly root-causing the problems and providing corrective status.”  Neither can churches.

Pastors and church leaders, one question – are you committed to change?  

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About briand@injoystewardship.com

2 Responses to “When Pastors And Church Leaders Don’t Listen To Their People”

  1. Brian on 15/08/2011 #

    As excellent this comparison of Dell and a proactive approach is, the breakdown with the church is the nature of it’s organizational or political structure. A pastor or church believes their obligation to change and accountability is not to the people like a business. This is the point where relevancy of the church as a growing organization breaks down.
    Churches like Business can only remain vital, growing and flexible to change when their congregation is growing and changing and good competition is spurring churches to remain relevant and effective.

    • briandodd on 16/08/2011 #

      Brian,

      Thanks for the great comments.

      Brian

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