10 seconds of First Impressions

It really doesn’t take much time or effort to be pleasant to YOUR customers. In today’s working world we are all busy with lots of different tasks and duties to perform: deadlines to meet, meetings to attend, emails to send, targets to exceed and so on. But what about our customers, do we really spend quality time with them?

The more attention that you give YOUR customer, the higher level of service they feel they are receiving. Did you know that it takes approximately 7 – 10 seconds for a customer to form an impression of you. Many businesses fail to recognise the importance of First Impressions. As soon as a customer enters YOUR business ensure your teams are acknowledging them immediately with focused eye contact and warm, welcoming smiles. Swiftly follow this with: “Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening…”

Let me share an experience with you. A few weeks ago I called into a local solicitor’s office to drop off an envelope on my way to work. As I entered the reception area I observed a staff member sitting behind a desk talking to someone on the phone and chewing at the same time. I slowly approached the desk with the envelope held up in my hand hoping to pass it over and leave. I looked at the receptionist to gain confirmation that she knew I was there. She didn’t look up but continued with the telephone conversation and chewing the gum. I hovered at the front of the desk for about 2 minutes occasionally looking at my watch. 2 minutes felt a very long time when you are standing in silence. She still didn’t acknowledge me: no eye contact, no smile, and no indication to take a seat. I felt uncomfortable: she had made me feel this way. I wandered around the room looking at the pictures on the wall, frequently looking over to her: still no acknowledgement. I noticed her starting to pick up mail and open it whilst she was on the phone. If she had time to do that, surely she had time to indicate to me that she wouldn’t be long? I sat down on the sofa and flicked through a magazine, again looking her way: still nothing. I looked at my watch again (an obvious signal that I couldn’t wait much longer) and as I got up to leave, she put the phone down. Hooray, after 8 minutes of waiting it was now my turn. But sadly not immediately: she continued to chew, put away the papers that were on her desk and finally looked at me and said “Yeah”. I felt I was an interruption to her. I smiled at her and handed over the envelope and left. Little did she know that I was smiling secretly to thank her for giving me an excellent example of poor first impressions and that I will use, along with others that I gather on my travels, throughout future courses and coaching.

As a customer I walked away with a poor impression of the business despite only coming into contact with their receptionist. Their expertise in their field may be outstanding, their other members of their team may excel in what they do and give a fantastic service but my impression, which was my First Impression, was pure and simply poor.

“You never get a second chance at a First Impression, so make sure it’s right the first time”