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The first impression that a person has of your business is often determined within 5 minutes upon walking into your establishment. What they see and experience sets the tone and the expectation they have for doing business with you. What does it take to create a WOW! first impression? Are you and your team consistently creating 5 Star first impressions for your clients, customers & prospects? And if not, why not?
Today we want to delve into this very crucial topic-
Creating 5 Star First Impressions in Your Business
If you are like many business owners, you may be spending tons of money on marketing and advertising-to announce to the marketplace about your business but are you taking advantage of your marketing success? Are you just assuming that once they’ve been attracted to your business that they’ll spend money, and become & remain a loyal customer? True, advertising & marketing is what brings them in, makes them aware of you, and causes them to consider purchasing your product or service. However, are those marketing and advertising dollars that you are spending to get them in the door, or on the phone or on your site-being wasted because you did not spend the same amount of time, care, attention and training on creating that great first impression? This happens all the time in industry after industry, business after business.
We must make the Service that we provide, the Experience that we deliver to our customers, as important, if not more so, than the advertising hook that entices them to consider doing business with us.
How to Create a 5 Star First Impression
Before I share with you some thoughts on how to create a 5 Star First Impression, let me ask you a question-When does one make a first impression? Is it when the customer or prospect first meets you? Or is it when they walk into the reception area or the lobby of your business? Is it when they call you on the phone? Is it when they look on your company website or your business profile on Twitter, Linkedin or Facebook or other social media site? The answer of course, is-yes, yes, yes & yes.
We must realize that oftentimes a first impression is formed in the mind of the prospect or customer long before they even set foot in your place of business, long before you get the chance to meet them.
Things that Influence a First Impression
1.) Your Reputation in the Marketplace–What do other customers, previous and current say about your business? This can be ascertained through looking up online reviews on Yelp, Trip Advisor, Angie’s List, or other sites specific to your industry. This can also come from the most powerful and cheapest in cost-(as in free) form of advertisement- W.O.M. or Word of Mouth Marketing. What are those customers saying about you, your business, your staff, how easy it is to do business with you, how you treat your customers, the quality of your product or service?
Your competition-what do they say about you? Most people who are honest will speak fairly about their competition even though they may not like you or feel happy about the share of the market that you command. Unless one is in politics, a person generally is not going to make up lies about their competition. Does your competition speak highly of you, say you have integrity, admit that you have a decent product, that you treat your customers well?
Your employees-How do they feel about your company as a place to work? Are people clamoring to get hired at your place of business? Or do employees dread coming to work at your there? When you have an opening are you easily able to find qualified candidates or does said position remain vacant for long periods of time?
All of the above contribute to your reputation in the marketplace and can have an influence upon potential customers’ first impression of you and your business. However accurate or inaccurate those assumptions may be-there is a strong likelihood that a customer considering your company has been affected by some of these opinions of others.
We hear this in real estate all the time-‘location, location, location’. This certainly has an impact upon a person’s mental perception and thereby their first impression of the business. Are you located next to an empty lot and dilapidated old buildings? What does the front of the building look like? What is the look and feel of the lobby? Is the lighting inviting? Is the music, the decor etc. appropriate to the type of business? What do these things combined make a person feel as they walk in? If you are running a professional law office or dental clinic, for example, you probably don’t want to have super bright lights, extreme gaudy color schemes and hard core punk or rap music playing.
While all the things we mentioned so far can and do have an impact and influence upon a customer’s first impression-many of us are not the business owner and we don’t make the decisions on such things. So, how can we affect a customer’s first impression? The following are things that any one and everyone on the team/staff, regardless of position, can control. You are the one who can greatly influence and either positively or negatively affect a customer’s first impression.
3.) Engagement– When someone walks in to your place of business-Welcome them. In fact actually saying the word “Welcome” will make the person feel-welcome. Do not be on your phone, looking down. You should be looking forward, smiling, with expectancy. Don’t be more engaged in conversation with your co-workers that you make the customer wait until you finish your conversation. This is not being welcoming. It seems strange to me that people whose job it is to greet the customers or guests, are often looking down, unaware and seemingly surprised or taken a back when someone actually walks through the door. This is a place of business, right? So, be prepared and don’t be surprised when a customer comes in the door. As mentioned above, the environment, the exterior and interior of a business can contribute to a customer’s first impression, however, no matter how beautiful the decor, the ambience are, nothing trumps a friendly welcoming greeting from a live person to set the tone for a great first impression.
4.) Enthusiasm & Positive Energy-When you greet & welcome your customers, have some positive energy in your voice. Let them know and feel that you truly are happy to see them. They are the ones who pay your salary-right? All too often customers are met with a very non-chalant, no energy, or low energy attitude by the one greeting them. It shows that you wish you were somewhere else and that you really don’t care about the customer. If you don’t enjoy what you do, maybe you should find a different job. This applies not only to greeting customers in person but also when answering the phone. Be upbeat, act like you are happy that the customer called. How you greet your customers/prospects has a huge impact on their first impression of the business.
5.) Your Appearance-Dress for Success-that may be a cliche-but it’s a true one. How you feel about yourself is going to affect how you engage with customers. If you are at a place of business you ought to dress appropriately for where you work. If you are the front desk manager at a local fitness center then athletic attire makes sense. If you work in a hotel or restaurant, yoga pants might make you feel comfortable but probably aren’t appropriate for that environment. Being well groomed and dressed for the business that you are in all add up to make a great first impression.
There are a myriad of other things that can influence a customer’s first impression. In fact, Ravi Shukle-Online Customer Service Expert from the UK, and I did an entire Blab Session on this very topic recently. As a special treat I have added the video of our session below. In it Ravi also shares some insights on making 5 Star First Impressions in the Online world. I hope you enjoy watching.
Thank you for Reading! I am very grateful for ALL my Soupfly readers from around the world! I invite you to share on Social Media. Please feel free to leave your comments below.
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Elevating Service & Hospitality,
Christoff J. Weihman
Las Vegas, NV