It was a potluck event doomed from the start.

Your vegetarian cousin, Sarah, graciously sat through the entire 4 hour affair pensively spooning the only vegetarian dish on the table (the spinach souffle she’d *thankfully* brought) into her mouth, while everyone else raved about “How delicious all of the turkey dishes were in their own unique way.”

Poor Sarah.

It seemed Aunt Shirley hit SEND and then NEVER again checked her email to see who was bringing what…And so, Thanksgiving turned out to be Meatsgiving.  

Truth is: Thanksgiving was supposed to be a wonderful time and a wonderful meal for everyone at the table. Aunt Shirley didn’t set out to make anyone feel excluded or uncomfortable.

But because she was so busy thinking about what tablecloth she was going to put out and where she was going to seat everyone, she forgot to do the most important thing: prep the guests.

The event was unforgettable, just not in the way Aunt Shirley had hoped.

But hey, let’s not be so hard on Aunt Shirley.

After all, it’s a mistake we all make: we fail to realize that a lot of the “experience” is determined by things that happen before the “start.”

The Experience Before The Experience

As a business owner, hopefully you’ve put a lot of thought into that “first impression” — from the uniforms and name tags your techs wear to the trucks they show up in and the ways they greet the customer.

That alone will put you ahead of the competition, considering that a lot of the “other guys” show up reeking of cigarettes and last night’s handle of Evan Williams. But are you still missing something?

Is this really the “first impression”?

What about every interaction and encounter your customer has with your company before you even show up to do the work?

Are those “experiences” working to prep your customers for the service appointment?

Are they communicating the right message and setting your techs up for success?

Or are they introducing disappointment to your customer’s mind before your team ever steps foot into their home?

Truth is, if you only think about the experience your customer is having or the impression your company is giving once you’re at their door or in their home, you’re missing out on a big part of the experience and the power and responsibility you have to prep your customers.

What can you be doing before the actual appointment to guide and shape the customer experience?

What can you be doing to get your customer ready so they know what to expect?

These are things you need to think about if you truly want to make a great “first impression” and avoid being like Aunt Shirley on Meatsgiving.

So take some time to inspect every interaction and encounter your customer will have along the journey — from your website and ads to their first impression scheduling with you and any other communication that happens (or should happen) leading up to the appointment. 

Consider the whole experience. ‘Cos your customers sure will!

P.S. If you want to read a super interesting book that covers the concept of gathering and can help you conduct better business, better meetings, better dinner parties, and better gatherings of all kinds, check out Priya Parker’s The Art of Gathering. It’s eye-opening!