In this article, we’ll focus on unpacking the three challenges churches face when digitizing their guest follow-up process: Reason #1: Asking for Too Much Information At times, the Digital Connection Card form asks for too much information from guests. Often, forms can stall the ‘momentum’ by asking for too much information all at the same time, information such as: Name Phone Email Address Comment / Needs And even if you are only asking for name, phone, email, and a comment—and making most of those optional—a process that feels overwhelming can cause “form abandonment,” the “I’ll do this later.” The fact is people are people, and the psychology is the same. If you get the most important data like the phone (or even email), you can still follow-up with a “promo.” Reason #2: Trying to Speed Date Your New Guests Since every weekend is someone’s first weekend with you, churches need to provide their first-time guests with a ‘first date’ experience, not a ‘speed dating’ one. Church speed dating is when a church is only interested in getting to know someone enough to collect their data for either a guest follow-up or the weekend new “growth numbers.” Either goal may create a non-welcoming culture that is unintentionally cast to your guest services team, creating the wrong first impressions with the guests. Just like a good date experience, you are going to ask the least amount of questions, listen more and follow-up in a day or two to see how the person enjoyed the meeting and begin sharing and receiving more information about each other. The question the proposed solution will answer is “What is the least amount of information you need to collect from first-time guests, and how you would automate additional asks over time?” Reason #3: Having a Church-Focused Rather Than a Guest-Focused Process Try and remember to view your process from the guest’s perspective like Jesus did: minimal but intentional. Digital connection cards mean less work for your team and a higher chance of accurate data, but what about your guests? Using only digital connection cards means first-time guests need to: Know the website address—so it needs to be easy to remember Have access to data Load their app browser, confirm, then type in this next step link, then enter their information To understand what to do, putting yourself in your guest’s shoes is critical. Make a follow-up process that matches what would work best for the people who walk through your doors and not what will work best for your team. So What is Recommended? Honestly, there isn’t a golden egg for guest follow-up, and it’s recommended to do an AND strategy. AND would entail traditional capture cards AND a digital solution. Once you keep your system guest-focused, and you continue to listen and tweak, the solution that works best for you is the best solution. However, for churches with the specific desire to use digital options to capture their guest information and then follow up, the data suggests that text bots (digital connect texts) outperform digital connection cards by huge margins. What are Text Chat Bots aka Digital Connect Texts? Text chatbots are digital conversations based on the most used form of communication: texting. Text chatbots can be simple or advanced (using AI like Alexa or Siri). They work on the #1 digital communication device: the mobile phone. Churches can use text bots to automatically, directly capture information from guests in a matter of seconds. No links. A question is asked, the guest replies, and then that data is stored correctly. For example, a digital connect text process could enable first-time guests to share name, address, email, phone number, and birthday one step at a time. All via texting. No links. And if they stop at any point in time, you already have at least their number and a name. Differences Between Digital Connection Cards and Digital Connect Texts (Text Chatbots) DIFFERENCE #1 The cards work via data capture (go somewhere and fill out forms online), but the texts work via auto-response (answer a few, easy questions step by step in a more conversational way). DIFFERENCE #2 Digital connect texts are a more natural and ubiquitous response format. Texting or chatting online is something done across generations. Often, the more natural something feels, the more information people are likely to give you. DIFFERENCE #3 The cards are an ‘all or nothing’ process—you either win or lose. The texts are an ‘as you go’ process—even if your contact stops at a certain point, you still have the information he or she supplied to them. New technologies can help your overall guest follow-up strategy. Source: Church Tech Today Shelby Systems has decades of experience working with ministries of all sizes. For more creative ideas on how to communicate with your congregation, contact your Shelby Sales Consultant today!