Today lets 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 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, and the Experience that we deliver to our customers, as more important, 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, Sotellus, 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 heavy metal 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.
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
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. This is merely touching on a few. The important thing to note is that there are many things we all can do, regardless of our job or position to positively affect a customer’s first impression. We all are the face of the business that we work at/for.
Thank you for Reading! I am very grateful for ALL my Soupfly readers from around the world!
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I Am the Customer Experience, Engineering the Emotional Journey,
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Excellerating Customer Service to Five Stars & Beyond,
Christoff J. Weihman
Las Vegas, NV
702 848 8955
Welcome Back to Soupfly!
This is part 2 of my post from a couple days ago about my recent experience with Frontier Airlines. If you missed part 1-go here now to read.
Maybe there is Hope
So, maybe something can be done after all!
Up to this point, I had not been impressed by the quality of care or concern by any of the Frontier staff members. Actually, I kind of felt as though they were being entertained by my plight.
Moments later, the supervisor, Sarah appears. I explain my situation, that I desperately need to retrieve the bag that was mistakenly checked. She assures me that she will do all she can to make this happen. Yay! Hooray. I finally feel that there is someone on my side. I am not relieved yet, but I am more hopeful than I was moments earlier. I ask if I should go to security and if she can just bring me the bag to security. She explains that the reason there is such a challenge with this situation is that once a bag is checked it can only go one of two places; onto the plane or to baggage claim. If it goes to baggage claim, only the passenger is allowed to bring it to security.
She tells me to go downstairs to baggage claim, carousel 22 and wait for her to retrieve and send me the bag. She asks what the my bag looks like and I describe it. It’s black and white and has some designs on it. I really don’t know how to describe it. My wife says it’s white with black flowers. Here’s a picture of the bag. How would you describe it?
Here’s a tip. When you travel, always take photos of all your luggage and have it saved on your phone. If you ever find yourself in a similar predicament you can easily just show the picture of your bags.
I head to baggage claim as Sarah heads to the inner belly of the plane or where ever the luggage for this flight happens to be at this time. I arrive at carousel 22. It’s empty. No flights listed on the sign board. No people. No other baggage. That’s good. I won’t have to sort through other bags. Just wait for mine. So I wait. And Wait. And Wait. Seemed like forever.
In reality it was a total of about 10 or 11 minutes. Even still, we are really cutting it close. I still have to go through security. It is now 12:03. Gates close at 12:40. I have roughly 35 minutes to get my bag, get through security, ride the tram and get to my gate. Sarah is on my side. I know we’ll make this happen. I’m confident, but sweating.
I had texted my wife while I was still up at the counter hoping for some kind of remedy to retrieve my bag. I said, I checked the wrong bag. She replied, “You’re stressing me out.” Probably shouldn’t have sent her that message. So, to make her not feel stressed, while I was waiting for my bag at carousel 22 I prepared a pre-text. Once I got my bag, I would just hit send and she would feel better, knowing that all was well. My pre-text read: Got my bag. Now going to security.
As I’m standing at Carousel 22 waiting for my bag to arrive, suddenly another Frontier staff person appears and stands about 10-12 feet away from me, in front of the baggage carousel. She is texting on her phone, she looks over at me a couple times but does not engage me nor introduce herself to me. I think that’s a bit odd. Finally, after a couple minutes, I walk over and approach her, introducing myself. She then responds, tells me her name, Maria (not her real name). Apparently she is texting with Sarah and is there to ensure that I get my bag. She says to me, “Sarah, has your bag and is sending it now. She will escort you to security, once you get your bag.” This sounds very promising to me. Sarah is going to ‘escort’ me to security. No problem. I’m very excited. Just waiting for my bag to appear.
I thank Maria for the information and then within a few seconds, at the top of the Carousel, out through the chute, here appears my bag! I am thrilled. It seems like forever for it to actually drop onto the belt and make its way toward me. Finally, there it is, on the belt in front of me. I grab it off the carousel. I don’t remember if I smiled or said something to Maria. All I know is, I have my bag.
Wrong Bag- Again!
I head towards the elevator to meet Sarah upstairs to be escorted to security. I press ‘Send’ on the text for Michelle. This will ease her worries a bit. I take a couple steps and begin to run towards the elevator, when I realize something is not quite right. OH NO-O-O-O!!! I look down. It’s the WRONG BAG! Sarah had sent my suitcase, not my carry-on!
I am stunned! I walk towards Maria and tell her the problem.
Now, Sarah has to go back and send the correct bag down to Carousel 22, AND they have to return the suitcase to be put back onto the airplane. I follow Maria into her office. She texts Sarah, telling her the situation. Then she makes a call, I presume to whomever is loading baggage onto the plane to inform them that there is one more still to come.
And then I wait. I also realized that the text I sent my wife, “Got my bag, heading to security now.” is incorrect. I decide not to stress her out more by informing her of the new status. I wait, staring at the Carousel 22. I’m praying that we can make it onto plane in time. I am thankful that Sarah is doing all she can to retrieve my bag. I’m frustrated, wondering how they could send the suitcase rather than the carry-on.
The time is ticking by and I still have to go thru security. Finally, the correct bag, my carry-on with my laptop in it, appears on the carousel. I thank Maria. I run to the elevator. I go up one flight to level 2 where I see Sarah in front of me with-I’m thinking a cart, something for us to ride to get to and through security quickly. No, instead, she is running and says to me, “Let’s go.” So, I run too. Here we are, running, Yes, I mean running, through the airport towards security. When we get to security, she flashes her badge and I guess she assumed they would just let us pass through. No way. TSA does not care. You’re late. Too bad. We did, however get to bypass the line. Thank God for that. Thank you Sarah.
But now, I still had to go through the same, normal, time consuming procedure. Shoes, belt off, everything out of pockets, etc. Once I had placed all my items in the multiple bins, the TSA agent points to the other side of the aisle and tells me to take all my bins to that side, because this side is now closed. Ugh! Ok, so I do. I get through security, Sarah is waiting for me. I finish gathering my things and then we run, again. This time to the tram to ride to the gates.
We get on the tram and sit down. As we sat there facing each other, I say to Sarah, “I did not intend to create a lot of excitement for your team this morning.” Sarah looks at me with a big grin on her face, (which I can’t imagine why she would be so happy) and she says to me, “I always enjoy when someone presents me with a challenge, an obstacle to overcome and I get the opportunity to fix it.” And that was about the extent of our conversation as the tram doors opened and we then proceed to run for the last time; to my gate. I ask Sarah for a quick picture. We take a selfie, I hug her and walk down the gangway to board my plane- 5 minutes after gates were scheduled to close.
As I boarded the plane, I was expecting the passengers all to applaud or to say something, either happy for me or perhaps annoyed that I was the one who delayed the plane taking off. No, nothing like that happened. They all, perhaps including the flight crew, were entirely unaware of what had just transpired over the past 42 minutes. The flight attendant greeted me and asked me to quickly take my seat. I found my seat and let out a huge sigh of relief.
I was on my way to Atlanta to speak at the National Customer Service Association Conference. I immediately knew that this experience I just had would inform my presentation entitled, “I Am the Customer Experience”. Sarah truly embodies what being your customer’s hero is all about. Thank you Sarah!
Thank you for reading. I appreciate all my Soupfly readers from around the world. This month so far we have readers from the following countries: United States, Canada, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, United Kingdom, Australia, Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, Norway, Singapore, Vietnam, Poland, South Africa, Pakistan, Romania, Peru, India, New Zealand.
To Pre-order your copy/copies of my upcoming new best seller, I Am the Customer Experience- go here:
Cheers and God Bless you!
Christoff J. Weihman
President/CSE Chief Service Elevater-ASPIRE Enterprises
Founding President National Customer Service Association (NCSA) Las Vegas
Las Vegas, NV
702 848 8955
Welcome Back to Soupfly!
On a recent trip to Atlanta, I experienced varying degrees of customer service displayed by the staff at Frontier Airlines. I know that I am not alone in this, as recently, the airline industry has been in the forefront of the news in regards to the good, the bad and the ugly way passengers are treated. Almost all the major airlines-United, South West, Jet Blue, Delta, and more, have been in the news for poor performance when dealing with the flying public. My experience actually took place before I even got on the plane. In fact, due to the events that unfolded, I almost didn’t make it onto the plane.
Before I share my story, let me say, No, I was not dragged off the plane by rude flight attendants or over zealous security officers No, my multi-thousand dollars guitars were not destroyed by staff. No, I was not berated or called some racist or insulting degrading name. Nor was I forced to remain in my seat and urinate into a cup with the Flight crew watching. Mine is just a story that tells of my experience of examples of both mediocre service and Excellent Customer service provided to me by different members of the same staff.
How Do You Feel When You Travel?
These days, there is a myriad of emotions that the flying public feel when they travel by air. It is different for each one of us and many of us find ourselves on an “emotional roller coaster”. You know what I’m talking about. What starts out as excitement for your trip often quickly turns into apprehension, nervousness, anxiety, frustration, impatience or any number of other not so-pleasant-emotions. We all have been there.
There are many points along one’s journey-called Touch Points where there is an opportunity for a service professional to interact with and effect (either positively or negatively) the customer’s overall experience. When I shared this story at the NCSA Conference- I began by asking the audience, “How do you feel when you fly?” They named all the emotions listed above and more. Interestingly, not a single one of them said, “I feel calm. I feel relaxed. I feel peaceful, or overjoyed.”
The reality is that there are thousands of flights traveling across the United States every single day, carrying hundreds of thousands of passengers, many whom are anxious, nervous, irritated and frustrated.
Airline staff are Service Professionals. Their primary duty should be, regardless of their position or job title, to provide great customer service to their passengers as they ensure their safe journey to their destination. However this does not always seem to be their primary concern.
I was booked on a Frontier Airlines flight departing at 12:40 am, from Las Vegas to Atlanta last April. I was super excited as I was scheduled to speak at the National Customer Service Association, (NCSA) Conference. This was my second year to be at this prestigious event as a speaker. And I was scheduled to speak not once, not twice, but a total of three times! Including closing the awards banquet! I was stoked! I had been looking forward to this for months!
When I travel, I tend to pack more than I end up using. More clothes, more shoes, more hats, more books. More everything. This is why road trips often work better for me, as there is no limit-or relatively no limit to what I can bring/pack, as long as I can fit it in the car. Also, it always takes me way too long to get all my stuff together, especially if I’m traveling alone and my wife is working. On this particular day, my wife was working. As she was leaving to work at 5:45 am, she admonished me to make sure I do nothing else this morning until I get all packed. I agreed and kissed her good bye.
I don’t know what happened but the hours quickly flew by. My suitcases and garment bag were lying on the bed half-packed. I just stood there staring at them. I’ve got to finish, I told myself. Bottom line- I was rushed. I did not leave myself ample time to get to the airport and through security. I take full responsibility for this.
At the Airport
I order my Lyft and wait. I get in with my 4 bags; suitcase, matching carry-on, garment bag and satchel, and take the 20 minute ride to McCarran International airport. I text my wife. She mentions that I was leaving a bit late. I text her ‘It’s fine’.
Arriving at the airport, I was expecting curbside check-in at Frontier Airlines. Nope. There was none. I also had not yet printed out my boarding pass. I go to the kiosk but can’t figure out how to print the boarding pass. I ask a staff member and they graciously assist me. That was nice. Thanks. I’m still a little irritated about the lack of curb side check in. It’s how I always travel. It’s easy, convenient and I don’t have to lug all my bags up to the check in counter.
I walk up to the counter, place my suitcase and carry-on on the weigh scale. I put my garment bag and shoulder bag on the ground. There are at least 4, maybe 5, counter attendants, unoccupied, talking among themselves. I mention to them that I was hoping for curbside check-in. One young man replies, laughing, “Well sometimes we have it and sometimes we don’t. It just depends what we feel like. Ha ha.” I quietly say, “I’m not joking.”
The girl who checked me in did not ask me any questions about the luggage I was checking. As I was looking for luggage tags to fill out, before I knew it, she hands me my boarding pass with the baggage claim stubs attached. I look behind her and I see my suitcase AND my carry-on disappearing on the belt.
“NO-O-O-O!” I exclaimed. ‘That’s the wrong bag!’ When I walked up to the counter, I just unloaded my luggage, placing the suitcase and matching carry-on on the weigh scale. I meant to place my garment bag as my second piece of checked luggage, not my carry-on. My carry-on had my $900. laptop in the front pocket. Unpadded, unprotected and uninsured. Oh, NO! We have to get that back. I am already rushed because I did not leave for the airport in time. Yes, my fault. I ask the Frontier staff at the counter how do we get my bag back? They kind of all say in unison some form of “No there’s nothing that can be done.” I think, that can’t be possible. I’m certainly not the only person ever who mistakenly checked the wrong bag. There’ got to be a way.
Where there’s a Lead, there’s No Way
I am a believer that there’s always a way. Someone has the authority, the know-how, the whatever it takes to fix a given problem. But my request was met with an attitude of ambivalence and lack of care. I say, “How do we get my bag back? My laptop is in there. It will be destroyed.” A female Frontier staff member says, “You can’t get it back. No one can. And yes it may likely be destroyed. There’s nothing that can be done.” My heart sinks. I have visions of retrieving my crushed, completely destroyed laptop upon arrival in Atlanta. I blurt out, “There must be something that can be done. Who’s in charge?”
That same woman who was speaking hopelessness to me a moment ago, walks away from me, while emphatically stating, “I AM. I’m the Lead!”
Wow. She’s the Lead?! The Lead of what? I felt no empathy whatsoever from this person who claimed to be in charge. What kind of customer service is that? Yes, again, I admit, I am the one who placed the wrong bag on the check-in scale. However, never once did the counter staff confirm with me that these are the bags I was checking. And regardless, if the customer makes a mistake, shouldn’t the service professional do or at least attempt to do something to fix the problem?
As I stand there, frustrated and bewildered, I wonder what am I going to do? The clock is ticking. I need to retrieve that bag. My flight is scheduled to leave in about 40 minutes. I ask one of the other staff members if there is a supervisor or manager that we can contact.
This young woman replies”Yes, she went to get the manager.” What? The person who is the Lead, who gave me no hope or assurance walks away to go get the manager? How bizarre. She did not make any attempt to reassure me or that she would attempt to find a resolution. Rather, all she did was emphatically state, “Nothing can be done and NO One can get that bag back!” She didn’t say, “Just wait right here Mr. Weihman, I’ll be right back.” But now I’m told she went to go get the manager. So, maybe something can be done after all!
Thank you for reading. I appreciate all my Soupfly Readers from all around the world.
Part 2 will be released in a couple days.
Please feel free to comment, share and like our Facebook page.
Cheers and God bless you all! I pray that you have positive customer experiences in your daily interactions.
Christoff J. Weihman