Photo by Tom Barrett on Unsplash

I had to take one of my dogs to the vet yesterday (she’s fine). The rescue she’s from is technically still responsible for her healthcare, so the visit wasn’t to our normal vet. My husband called and made the appointment. When it was time to go, I asked him if there was anything I needed to know about their process, considering COVID and all, and he said, “They told me it’d be obvious when you get there.”

Great. So went on our way.

When we arrived, it was definitely NOT obvious what the contact-less arrangement was.

There were signs on the doors saying not to enter, but to stay in your car and call the front desk. But the only way to read those signs was to get out of your car and walk up to the doors. And when I called to let them know I was there, I practically had to pull teeth to get more info on what to do next.

You know what, though? It was only mildly annoying. Everyone’s doing the best they can and I really appreciated not having to go into the office.

But it did get me thinking about the statement, “It’ll be obvious when you get here.” I’m sure it seems obvious to the person who works within the system day in and day out. Heck, they might have even developed the system!

But when you’re new, your newness is a huge disadvantage. And even though experiencing something–really walking through the steps–is the best way to figure things out, having more information is certainly useful, and also minimizes anxiety.

It reminded me of when I worked the front desk of a bed and breakfast. One day, I didn’t have the lights on because the sun was coming through the windows so strongly. But when some clouds moved in, it got significantly darker, and I didn’t think to turn the lights on because I could see just fine. When my manager noticed, she said, “You know this place in the dark, but our guests definitely do not.” And she was right.

When you’re in a new environment or experiencing something for the first time, having a complete idea of what you’re getting yourself into–whether it’s clear instructions or an unobscured view–is so important.

In other words, a process might seem obvious to you because you’ve been through it a hundred times. Someone new to it could be in the dark and require some guidance.

Now that businesses are starting to reopen, the smart ones are putting their customers at ease by outlining what a visit to their establishment will be like: what customers can expect from the business and what the business expects from their customers.

Shed some light to make it obvious.

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