Have you ever dropped by an Apple Store just to look around?  The anticipation you felt walking in was likely generated by what friends had said, something from a commercial, or a brilliant print ad that drew you in.  All of these were designed to ENTICE you.

What happens next as you approach and cross the threshold is all a part of the ENTER phase of your experience.  This is the second of the five phases of an experience.


ENTER: The ENTER phase is everything that a customer feels, hears, sees, smells, tastes or does as they enter.  Think of it as the pre-engagement phase.  The customer has not yet formally engaged with the business to do what he or she came to do (e.g., check out the new iPhone 4S). Yet, they are clearly beginning to experience the business and many of their earlier expectations are beginning to be confirmed (e.g., posters of the new phone).

Negative Signage - K. Macdonald

Unfortunately, a business can short-circuit a customer’s experience at this point and never have an opportunity to engage.  What if the customer drives into the parking lot and there are no spaces to park? What if they are welcomed by dusty windows with last month’s sale flyers still hanging?  Or worse, they are greeted with a list of the “rules of engagement.”

Businesses need to see this phase as an opportunity to provide the customer with all the signposts to guide them in, confirm their decision to come, and to begin to orient the customer to the full experience they are about to encounter.  Research says businesses have less than 10 seconds to make these first impressions.

Digital cameras are a wonderful tool to help assess this phase of the customer’s experience in your business.  Take a camera and begin at least 10 yards from your entrance.  Start taking pictures … at least a dozen until inside your door.  On a sheet of paper write down the first impressions you want your customers to have … and then critically look at the pictures.  Remove any of the negatives you see (litter, old signage, dead plants, etc.) and think of ways you could enhance this critical opportunity to make a great first impression.

When was the last time you experienced your ENTER experience?  What did you hear, smell, see, and feel?

What could you do to enhance your ENTER experience to guide in your customer and confirm their decision to do business with you?