First Things First

This is a guest post by Jeff Jackson. He is the Director of Guest Services at Watermarke Church, a North Point Ministries church. Jeff brings rich experience, including his time working at Chick-fil-A. You can follow him on Twitter.

With all of the time that I have spent working in the area of guest services, I have heard a lot of discussion around the idea of 2nd mile service. You’ve probably heard it too. Second mile services are the behaviors we exhibit and services we offer that create a “wow” experience for our guests. They turn an ordinary experience into an extraordinary one. The conversations around second mile service behaviors that you and I have heard exist for good reason.

We desire guests in each of our environments to feel like they are welcomed, comfortable, safe, and that their needs have been reasonably provided for. We hope to eliminate any existing obstacle that would discourage a guest from letting down their guard and engaging with God. Second mile service behaviors can be very disarming and help guests to feel welcomed and at ease. So, the conversation surrounding 2nd mile service is appropriate and a major part of what those of us who operate in a Guest Services' role need to consider.


Experience has taught me that we must always remember to keep first things first.  Second mile service behaviors will not create “wow” experiences if our guests are blinded to them because of the absence of excellence in 1st mile services. We can’t wow our guests if we can’t meet their most basic expectations. It doesn’t matter how many bottles of lotion, packs of mints, or what type of flowers adorn our restrooms if there is no toilet paper or the floor is dirty, or the garbage needs to be emptied (ever found yourself in this situation?). The “wow” simply doesn’t land.

Here are a few of the basic first mile service topics we always consider first at our church:

  • Safety
  • Cleanliness
  • Efficiency
  • Availability

At the end of the day, we have to execute first mile services with excellence before our second mile efforts will ever bear fruit. While that will look different for each of us in our unique contexts we all must work to ensure that our guests first and foremost feel safe, that our facilities are clean and well stocked, our systems are efficient, and that we are available to our guests whenever they have need. Only after we have accomplished meeting these most basic needs of our guests can we then wow them with our attempts to go above and beyond and provide 2nd mile services.