In business, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. With so many people putting effort into comparison shopping, it is more than possible that a potential customer will make up their mind on your entire business within seconds of first contact. And while that is often unfair, there’s really not much we can do to change that reality. We’d all like people to take more time making up their minds, but that’s not something we can control. What we can control is what they see when they turn towards us.
There are multiple different ways to make a first impression. The first contact that a customer has with our business may be in-person, when they stumble across it while running errands. They might see it online, having consulted a search engine for a business like ours. It’s also possible that they first encounter us over the phone. In each of these capacities, we have ways that we can deliver a positive first impression, so it’s worth focusing on each of those.
How to make the best impression in person
You may never know how many people walk past your business, size it up and then walk on without ever stepping inside. The fact is, it’s more than you probably imagine. This will particularly be the case if the building has been subject to neglect. Even if you’ve just moved in, it’s likely that some people are judging your business on this basis. So it is worth looking over the exterior, and consulting the likes of Cladding Monkey to give it a spruce-up. Equally, the interior should look welcoming – plenty of warm colours, as much natural light as possible, and where artificial light is unavoidable it should be muted and warm-toned.
Of course, the personal impression made is important too. Anyone who enters your business premises should be greeted within 20-30 seconds of walking in – or immediately if they approach the counter. Ascertain what they need and any additional details, and offer them a seat if they’re going to have a wait ahead of them.
Giving the correct phone impression
Any of us who has ever done a stint in a call centre will be more than familiar with the process of answering the phone with a “Hello, this is [business name], you’re through to [your name], how can I help?”. It’s not exactly stimulating, but it is important. You do need to clearly identify the business, and put a simple question to the potential customer, and this is the case on every call. Don’t leave the customer confused as to whether they have the right place, or needing to ask any qualifying questions. If their first call is awkward, it’s hard to retrieve the situation from there, so favour professionalism and courtesy every time.
Making an online impression
Someone encountering your company online will be different from the above in one crucial way above all else – they have time and comfort on their side. So you can take the chance to “wow” them with an immersive experience that sets you apart from the competition. Your website should feel “complete” – any information a customer should wish to know should be on there. It should not all be crammed in, but should be easy to find by way of a drop-down menu. Crucially, it should be mobile-optimised, because at least half of all searches are on web browsers, so information should be concise, searchable and in a readable font.
Your first impression might be your only chance to impress a customer, so make sure that everything looks good from the beginning – however a customer finds you.