Creating Touch Points to Keep Members Involved

By mining caller data, churches can create “touch points,” or instances when a customer interacts with the organization. The more effective touches there are, the more involved a church member will become, says Carl Mims, director of information technology at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale.

For example, everyone who responds online or through a toll-free number to the Florida church’s The Active Word TV show, seen on 27 national and regional stations, gets entered by call-center agents into Calvary Chapel’s church management system.

Calvary Chapel uses software from Shelby Systems to track who buys which spiritual books, tapes or CDs, for example. Outreach and marketing staff later send them e-mail or paper letters, telling about related services or events, such as a women’s fellowship group or the church’s Christian college fair. Pertinent products are also mentioned.

The techniques mirror the personalized up-selling done by companies including insurer Allstate Corp. and online retailer

But, says Mims, a former investment banker, “I wouldn’t describe it as a marketing campaign. It’s a stay-in-touch campaign.

“Our product is the word of God and we’re not modifying the word of God,” he insists. Rather, he says, “We provide materials to meet someone’s spiritual need.”

If congregants then choose to buy, for example, senior pastor Bob Coy’s pulpit teachings on relationships—$40 for a 10-tape set—it’s Calvary Chapel helping people get closer to God.

New members have flocked to the church. The congregation today numbers 18,000, up from 1,000 when Mims joined in 1993. And last year, donations and product sales reached $33 million, up from $28 million in 2003. —K.S.N.