First impressions are the most lasting. — Proverbs
I was talking to someone about their recent restaurant experience where the food and the service was amazing, they just couldn’t get over one thing: the host. However great the food and experience was once they sat down, it was that first impression that had the most lasting impact. Apparently, the host seemed distracted and not really interested in being…well…a host. Ever get that feeling that when you’re engaging with staff, you’re interrupting them? That was it.
That first interaction with your business speaks VOLUMES. It’s no different than any first impression you get when meeting someone for the first time. It takes no more than 1/10 of a second (Princeton researchers proved it) of interaction to make a judgement, and the longer that engagement lasts doesn’t seem to change those first thoughts.
So how is your business making that first impression? Look at where your touch points are with your customers and determine whether your customers are getting the impression you want and, more importantly, the impression they want.
- Help Desk – who is responding to your customers concerns and questions in person?
- Host – who is greeting your guests when they enter your store?
- Website – what is the first thing your customer see? Don’t see?
- Live Chat/Call Centre – does your online/on-call interface work as your customers expect?
- Social Media – what does your imagery and descriptions say about your business? How quickly do they respond to customers?
And that first impression isn’t just limited to interactions with your business. It also includes personal interactions with employees, staff or company leadership.
One of my pet peeves are those that try to separate themselves from their business, thinking that just by saying “these opinions are mine, not my organizations” will be like telling a jury on law and order TV show to ignore evidence. You’ll see it in a lot of Twitter bios. Like if you’re ignorant, insensitive or sexist that you’re exempt because you said so.
Sorry, that’s not how the mind, or the world, works.
I’ve had experiences with individuals that were so negative that I will never do business with them or the company they work for, and even go so far as to recommend others not to do so either. Keep in mind, I never did business with them, only engaged with them on a personal level. Doesn’t matter. A first impression is a first impression, and that impact ripples into your work life and the perception of working with you or how your business operates. People don’t see a distinction. You are an ambassador for your company. Always.
So what can your business do to ensure their first impression is the right one?
- Audit – take a look at all your assets and touch points. How long has it been since you’ve checked up on your resources, your websites, your staff? Are they properly equipped in training, empowerment or resources to properly speak for your company? Look at your customer’s journey and take note.
- UX – how you want to communicate and how your customers interact with you might not be in line. Going through a user experience exercise will give you valuable feedback on how well your company is meeting its customers needs.
- Follow Up – bad first impressions happen. You can’t knock it out of the park 100% of the time, but do you have the mechanisms in place to make course corrections or to ensure there’s a relationship you can salvage with your customer? Surveys, exit interviews, feedback forms…there are lots of ways you can listen to your customer’s experience and do something about it.
Trust is planted in that first impression. And though you may be selling a product or a service, it’s the trust that will lead to repeat business and strong relationships.
In 1/10th of a second, you can start a lifetime of loyalty.