You may or may not know that I’m a magician. Some of you may know that I’m also a musician. But today I want to talk about being a magician. Growing up throughout high school and college I performed at parties, corporate events and comedy clubs. That experience in show business gave me the stage chops to start my business as a professional speaker. I share this background to give you some context. Many of my friends are professional entertainers. A friend I’ve known for years is Jeff McBride, an amazing magician who performs throughout the world and resides in Las Vegas. I was reading an article by Jeff in a magic magazine. He was writing about the business of a magic show, but his concept applies to business in general. His comment was, “The show starts when the phone rings.” He was referring to clients who call him for private engagements. The point he was making was that the customer experience begins the moment the customer connects with you, not when they see you on stage or in person. The way the phone is answered is really your opening act, and the manner in which you conduct yourself from that point forward, all the way up to taking the stage, is part of the overall show experience for the client. I’ll also add that every interaction that comes after the performance on stage is part of the show. We can call that the encore. It’s the same in business. Our customers may find us as the result of a Google search or a recommendation from a friend or colleague. They land on our website. They look around and research. They may call us or visit us. At some point they move from thinking of doing business with us to actually buying whatever we sell. Depending on what we sell, whether B2B or B2C, the buying cycle may take more than one visit. It could take weeks or months … maybe even longer. So, when does the customer start making the decision to buy? Long before they actually make the purchase. It happens between the moment the customer thinks of you and the time they actually buy. And, it’s probably much earlier in the process than you think. Everything that happens leading up to the sale is part of the customer experience. And, that includes customer service. Most people think service happens after the sale. The reality is that every interaction leading up to and after the sale is part of service and experience. That first time the customer lands on your website or makes a phone call – that’s the opening act. From that point, the show has started. In business, the show never ends. There’s follow-up, customer support and repeat business. For some this is common sense, so consider this a reminder. For those who haven’t thought this way, this could be an epiphany. So, here’s to strong opening acts, standing ovations and encores that get your customers to come back again and again!