Monday has been back-to-back-to-back meetings so I had 15 minutes to grab lunch. I decided to take that time to walk to Jimmy John's - get some fresh air and freaky fast food. As I was in line the woman before me had clearly never been to a Jimmy John's and was taking a minute to understand how it all works.
The cashier was kind enough but hardly empathetic to this woman's struggle to understand the culture and lexicon of Jimmy John's. She reluctantly ordered and got something that she thought she might enjoy. On her way back to the pop (or soda) machine she struggled to see where the lids and straws were because unlike most restaurants, JJ's has them above the machine.
After watching all that something resonated with me:
There is always someone who is NOT familiar with your work.
There is always someone being introduced to your brand.
There is always a chance to botch a "first" impression.
In a way, I feel for the employee because when you think of Jimmy John's, Target, Whole Foods, Apple, or Google it is hard to imagine a human who has not heard of any of these brands - let alone interacted with them. But they are out there.
But keeping your brand awareness at 100 is a difficult task and keeping customer interactions flawless and high touch is even harder.
My wife and I were at a new restaurant in town last week and when the waitress came over we told her we were new here and asked what we had to try on our first trip - she proceeded to read us the entire menu which wasn't helpful from a decision-making standpoint and didn't make us feel like we were worth the investment to figure us out as customers.
In contrast to that what if our experience had been like this?
In a world of expanding choice, it is getting harder and harder to stand out. However, we are telling more and more mythologies about customer service because done well, it is becoming rarified air.
In our honest moments, most marketers would love a world where we stopped talking about "customer service" because brands did it well. But lots of companies treat it like a cost-cutting line item to make annoying customers go away.
So we live in a world where your choice is a place where that woman had lunch that one time, or that brand who took the time to make sure her experience mattered and took steps to see that she might come back one day.
First impressions matter and your brand is making or breaking them every hour. What are your first-time customers thinking about your brand?
Is that what you want them thinking about you?