Create a Good Experience

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When I was sixteen years old I went to Mexico in the middle of July with a group of other teenagers. We built three small houses for families who didn’t have homes. Imagine 8 hours per day constructing frames, hanging drywall, installing insulation, placing roofing. Imagine no pay, 100+ degrees, and going to the bathroom in a hole. 

We had a blast. 

When I was in college I did a group project analyzing the organizational culture of Disneyland. I spent two full days at Disneyland completely paid for, experiencing each section of the park. I was able to talk to cast members, study the small details, and look for the accidents. In the end, I got to compile everything into a final presentation, analyzing it based on the field of study I genuinely enjoyed. 

It was the worst project in all my days of school.

What was the difference between these two experiences? One was difficult, hard work, no pay, very tiring. The other was exciting, educational, interesting, in the happiest place on earth. But the people I worked with in Mexico were positive, excited, encouraging, and turned it into a great time. Meanwhile, my group project partner was over zealous, talked my ear off, didn’t take good notes, and barely contributed to the paper. 

So my claim is this: experience is everything.

Personal experience is the only lens with which we view the world. 

We create logical explanations for why interactions and situations went the way they did. But what guides the entire understanding we construct is the simple, base level experience. 

When I first started freelancing, I did my best to be clear about what work I would be doing, and how often I would be doing it. For the most part, I did what I said I was going to do. But when clients came back saying that they didn’t want to keep working with me, I was confused and hurt. 

The problem was this: I focused too much on the business transaction instead of the marketing experience. People feel like they’re throwing money away if they don’t know what’s going on with their marketing. I didn’t spend time educating them on the long-term growth philosophy of building a tribe. So often, I’d work for three months, and when my clients didn’t see immediate results they let me go. 

But I wasn’t doing a poor job, and it wasn’t because they didn’t like me. They let me go because I didn’t frame the experience as something that was positive and important. I focused too much on details and facts instead of feelings and experiences. 

I learned a lot about a good customer experience in Joey Coleman’s book “Never Lose a Customer Again.” He talks about ways we can create a great customer experience and maintain our client base for a long long time. He explains how when we make a sale, the storyline is over for us. But the storyline isn’t over for the customer until their problem gets solved.

I’m obviously not saying that you can create a viable business by selling bad products with a good experience. I am saying that even a great product won’t sell if it’s wrapped in a bad experience. 

So create great products. Hone your services. Be as good as you can be. And a huge part of that is creating good experiences for the people you serve too. 

Joshua Reese