Interactive Kiosks and their Place at Church

by | Dec 6, 2021 | Church Communication, Leadership, Operations

Originally posted on Grandwell Industries

We’re experiencing the largest communications advance in 500 years; needless to say the landscape is changing. Through it all, the church remains on target and up to date with improvements in technology for worship, outreach, and now for interaction. Everything that happens in church is also accessible outside of it, and the best way to encourage that as a standard practice is by showing parishioners that the interface they use – their phone – is also inside the church, in the form of an interactive kiosk.

Benefits of Kiosks

Facilitating connectedness is something that’s so integral to the Church that it almost goes without saying, and the process is definitely being affected. Approaching people for that purpose is a huge strength in Christianity and the technology to do it is keeping up. Joining a group, submitting your info, asking for any event sign up – it can take place in the lobby now instead of waiting in line with a kiosk. Why is that so important? Digital cuts through noise. It calms us down in stressful situations and it lets us watch something stationary, but engaging.

Kiosks are user friendly, especially when they come equipped with an Android OS, or other phone system. “Staying connected” is a common theme in today’s secular world as well and is strongest online. With an interactive kiosk or greeting station, you can keep your parishioners interacting 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It’s not intimidating and it’s not replacing the welcome desk. It’s helping with the workload that frequently falls on the back of the house staff, especially during peak times. Nothing can replace human interaction, but a clipboard can be changed out for a digital sign up sheet.

It’s helping out in tough times and adding to the overall experience. Church kiosks get you more signups and initiate the next step. They’re natural builders because they’re set up to gather data and always have been. People know to enter their information; the form just appears when they tap. Internet safety is something that’s taught everywhere now and a closed system is the safest kind of interaction. Kiosks are not only application based; they’re very visibly stored safely inside the church.

You’re centralizing, or creating a hub, when you add a church kiosk. Whether it’s wall-mounted or freestanding, the station creates a warm and constantly aware atmosphere that you can pair with greeters – and older church members will find the familiar telephone interface welcoming and fun to explain. It helps navigate the slightly more closed series of interactions and next steps.

How to Make a Kiosk Work for Your Church

Some differences between a kiosk and a phone? There isn’t really internet; instead you’re guided to the church page or directory, the donation page, or your social media directly through applications. They’re just buttons, and make for an easy and fun user experience. If you’re particularly tech savvy you can build your own, or hire a company to help. If not, the apps store has a ton already to bridge the church-to-personal-computing gap by enabling phones instead of – or alongside – a parishioner’s phone.

Every facet of church interactive boils down to a tiled choice or app, depending on how you choose to set your kiosk up. The screensaver is also customizable and can show a verse, the church schedule, or a beautiful and meaningful image. It’s an attractive way to connect your people to the church; it’s hands on.

Wayfinding

Interactive kiosks are extremely helpful when it comes to Wayfinding. They help orient your visitors and parishioners the way a greeter does, but they offer so much more! High traffic times are tough, and a kiosk is a literal directional – helping to point your regulars towards the food, sign ups, or the main room – but they’re also there for a new visitor and serve as a great data collection point. Studies show that only 12% of your visitors will become a churchgoer. Getting them involved, and having them submit their contact info in a comfortable way that moves at their pace is a great way to send that number up!

Tithing

They’re also a great way to help with another type of church specific practice: tithing. A QR Code lets parishioners and visitors alike load your donation page to their phone for contactless donations. Less people than ever carry cash or checks, so capitalize on the trend. Unfortunately a huge part of the connectedness that Churchgoing brings parishioners includes tithing, and they’ll be disrupted if it’s skipped. A stationary reminder can bridge a difficult gap between past habits and modern day disruptions effectively and in an inclusive way.

Collection plates can still be offered, but being able to donate at a station, or from home, lets people keep a reminder about tithing and encourages them to keep traditional practices at heart. Additionally, recent giving research shows that people are actually more open to giving digitally – they genuinely prefer it.

Demographics and Attendance

The same holds true for event attendance, sign ups of any kind, and releasing information. Loading your kiosk with your Facebook Page, Twitter, and the church directory or giving page is a great way to capitalize on the warm glow of digital, and the attraction of interacting with it. A beautiful image or verse is displayed until the Visitor or Member interacts. In retail, 1 in 5 people makes an unplanned purchase after interacting with digital; it calms us down and energizes us. That translates for your church members.

Increase event attendance, and donations by letting people interact during down time; it’s always there! On an even more positive note, while they’re interacting with newer technology, people are taking care of tithing and connecting themselves, becoming even more invested in becoming a member or parishioner.

Screensavers

Why do we keep mentioning the transition between interaction and screensaver? Keep your kiosk visible and working for you. 52% of people recall what they’ve seen on digital, so they’ll remember your cookie contest, the next donation date, and what next week’s theme is. Pick what’s important to you and advertise. It’s great practice, and has a wonderfully inclusive return.

80% of all people watch the programming on digital signage; it’s as popular as your landmark LED or letter sign. Studies in retail show it decreases perception of wait time by 33%, so more of your parishioners can wait to talk to you, and you can get a visitor to interact more, and in more ways.

Additional Connections

73% of all people have stated that they want a kiosk around for purchases, enter info or get information. All signs point to digital for a secondary point of contact to connect 24/7 with your social media, your podcasts and your directories. Parishioners can load any of the above onto their phones along with your tithing website or form and keep the church with them. They can share your media with family and friends to help with bringing a guest to events. The more comfortable you get with digital, the more valuable a kiosk becomes. Upload notes for your attention impaired members so they can follow along. Podcast your sermon for people at home with someone ill. Outreach is facilitated by digital.

Does it Really Work?

Have doubts about the possibilities of a true tithe? 53 Billion digital payments were made with QR Codes in general in 2019. It’s called contactless donation, and the QR Code itself can even go on your church merch. You don’t have to leap into the modern age; hard copy kiosks have been around a long time and the new ones just give you a phone type interface, and capitalize on the fact that your parishioners are using the same sort of thing to interact. When you’re working with your kiosk, you’re looking at the same thing that your community is when they pull out their phone later and interact.

You’re not creating a digital dependence, you’re compartmentalizing change, and growing your understanding of the communications that are going on everywhere. Your hard work on sermons can get repeated use online and members never have to miss a service, which is great in a series. Just have them enable push notifications and they’ll even get an update when you put up a new sermon, event, or post about changing conditions. Receiving news straight from you keeps your congregation involved.

Additional Ways Kiosks Can Help

Don’t stop at one use for your kiosk. As you get more comfortable updating it, you can use your kiosk to help members pay for tickets and register for events in advance, and it’s a great platform to expand out from volunteer sign-ups. If you’re not up to that, remember you’re seeing the same thing as your churchgoers, so you can choose to update your website and get the exact same result, keeping them current from home. They get more comfortable as well and are more likely to enter their info into the church registry. Kiosks are great for data gathering and data organization; it takes a lot of the burden off of your staff.

They’re still valuable; donation data is available on your work computer and, depending on your donation system, will be shown the same as it was before so it may need to be indexed. It’s just coming from a centralized focal point that links in your parishioner’s phones. Recurring giving sees a definite uptick when you use a kiosk, no matter where you put it. Kiosks help in the summer months, twice over if you use it to help parents log into daycare. More accurate tithing (kiosk gifts are up to 24% higher than the average mobile gift, and donations in general go up about 16%) and a way to jump the line gives people the balanced levels of interaction and convenience they need.

When you first purchase a digital assistance, location and decor is a frequent concern. Kiosks are slim enough that they fit conveniently anywhere and sleek enough to match any church, no matter how new or old. In the modern era they have the bonus of being easy to clean, and helping with the traffic clogs that we’re all trying to manage.

Reduce organizational costs, increase credit card revenue, improve parishioner experience, create a safe environment, a sense of fellowship and community and engage constantly with your congregation and their mobile devices. You’ve never had a better chance to connect every day, and in every traditional way.

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