According to Inc. magazine, a good first impression is the first step in establishing trust and a mutually beneficial relationship with a client. While dressing well, smiling are making small talk are important, there are even better ways to improve your customers’ first impression of your employees and company.
First-time clients want to feel that their time and money is in safe hands. This is especially true for certain industries, such as finance and health care. Management style and organizational efficiency influence how customers form their impression of a company. For example, the communication effectiveness and business process should be smooth and trouble free. There is nothing worse for a new customer than being exposed to mistakes and miscommunication. Keep in mind that all customer interactions involve the exchange of information. Consequently, the information must be accurate and equally shared between different departments. One of the most frustrating experiences for a new customer is being transferred between different departments that don’t communicate or share electronic information. Company software should be centralized and standardized.
Preparation is Everything
A recent Forbes magazine notes that permanent first impressions are made in only a few seconds. Employees should be self-aware how their attitude influences their appearance. Thinking positively and forcing a smile will actually make the employee feel better about themselves. Proper posture communicates confidence and willingness to engage the customer. While there is endless advice on how to properly present yourself and avoid social faux pas, employees should also receive diversity training. For example, certain cultures consider quick introductions with informal familiarity to be inappropriate. In fact, traditional cultures emphasize respecting hierarchy and protocol over American style friendliness. Be sure that employees are trained on how to properly engage different cultures and diversity groups.
Making a good online impression is equally as important as making a good face-to-face impression. That is, more and more customers prefer to engage the company online through their website or social media site. Many companies don’t realize that an online impression of a website only takes a few seconds. Visitors to a website will be turned away after having to struggle to find basic information, such as the shipping policy or the customer service number. In fact, research shows that people spend approximately six seconds viewing the logo, navigation menu and written content. Websites that are bloated with too much competing information will visually overload customers. In addition to this, many people now rely on their smart phone to access the Internet. Therefore, websites must be optimized for a user friendly mobile phone experience. Consider soliciting feedback from your clients and a professional third-party web design company. Finally, be sure to maintain an active social media site that responds to customers posts and complaints in a timely and professional manner.
To sum up, making a good impression is the first step in engaging and retaining customers. First impressions can be improved through organization and proper preparation. It is also important to make a good online impression through professionally designed and maintained websites and social media platforms.