Megachurches and the Gospel of Customer Relationship Management

Megachurches like the 25,000-member World Changers of Atlanta can teach corporations the true meaning of customer relationship management.

How? Not only do they manage the logistics of having thousands of members show up on a single day and still go home singing their praises, they also manage the information about those members in ways few commercial companies can match.

By analyzing and responding to members, the World Changers has learned how to encourage first-timers to join, long-timers to stay active, get volunteers to contribute more time, get contributors to put in more money and get everyone to buy a little more at the church store.

They can also track who’s sick, who’s related to who, who might be enticed to come back after a period away, and who might be becoming discontent and might abandon ship.

World Changers does it with slick customer relationship management and aggressive customer care.

“People tend to think churches are different because we have a different product,” says Karen Hosey, director of the 11-member marketing staff at World Changers.

“But our product is the word of God. People buy [any product] because you [as a supplier] meet a need. Same here.”

How can you do the same? Read on.

Story Guide:

Main story:

  • The Principle and Practice of Prosperity:Pastor Creflo A. Dollar Jr. built a congregation on a message of prosperity and conservativism; he built an organization on the practical application of those principles.
  • Megamodel: The size of megachurches seems impersonal, but the customer relationship model is as high touch as you get.
  • Pastor’s Proposition: Give to the church and you’ll prosper; buy a CD and you’ll learn.
  • Using Technology to Minister: Live Webcasts of sermons, bibles on handhelds, daily e-mail blasts, online donations, and—everywhere—collect data to know who your congregants are and what they need from you.
  • Keep Attendees Involved: Getting them to services and into volunteering is only the start of an effective member-loyalty program.
  • Quick member Integration: Right after first contact, the church reaches out to potential members with packets of prayers and information tailored to their interests and even their proximity to the church.
  • Meet Customer Needs: Give ’em what they want and they’ll keep coming back for more.
  • Keeping Customer Contacts In-House: Running call centers and other contact mechanisms is tough, but World Changers keeps the core contacts in-house to keep the services focused.
  • Preventing Churn: Spotting the members who might be ready to decamp and bring them back to into the fold.
  • Mixed Blessings: Rev. Dollar’s methods and success—not to mention his last name—raise hackles.
  • Base Case: Snapshot of World Changers’ business, size and growth.

    Other Parts of the Picture

  • Evangelicals’ Lead in Technology: Evangelicals have a history of adopting new tools to accomplish their mission.
  • Software That Binds, And Converts, And Retains Members: Technology is not only helping churches track membership and retention rates, but in some cases it is helping convert visitors into congregants.
  • 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.
  • Megachurch Player Roster: Creflo Dollar is the most visible presence in what has become a technology-driven organization.
  • Blackbaud: App Set for Nonprofit Fundraising Out of the Box Customers say Blackbaud’s fund-raising software works right out of the box.
  • Home-growing CRM software for non-profits is a rocky path: Custom apps for fundraising need to meet the same ROI criteria as commercial CRM, but with less room for error..
  • Megachurch Player Roster: Creflo Dollar is the most visible presence in what has become a technology-driven organization.
  • Megachurch Base Technologies: The key technologies World Changers is using, what it’s using them for, and how they plan to improve.