It’s back to school time so today I’m thinking about something that many of the students are thinking about: making a good first impression. Many business owners only get one chance to make a good first impression because their first impression was bad or unremarkable. In these cases if a second or third impression opportunity comes along the business owner has a very difficult job of overcoming the negative impression the people had and showing them that they do deserve their attention. Many people won’t give them a second opportunity because there are other options out there for just about everything. With as challenging as it is to convert people into being customers, it’s important to make sure you do the best you can for your first impression. Let’s take a look at a few things you can do to make a good first impression.
Get the details right. When people visit your website they expect the information there is accurate. When people call in they expect to be told the correct thing. When people give their name they expect for it to be said back to them correctly (I’m talking about a Bob/John difference, not accents, inflections or languages). Don’t be ashamed to take notes. Don’t be afraid to hire someone to make sure all the details (especially dates) are kept up to date. Don’t be afraid of making changes because it means things have to be updated.
Look good. First impressions often have to do with how things appear, whether we’re talking the physical or virtual world. If you have a website that looks like it was made in 1990 people will assume your business isn’t relevant to them in 2016 (unless you deal in 1990’s stuff). If you or your team are sloppily dressed and don’t clean up the mess around the store, people notice and assume that the products or services you provide might be contaminated or aren’t that great. No, you don’t have to spend thousands on appearances, but current, neat and tidy are the minimum.
Communication counts. How and if you communicate is also key to creating a great first impression. If you know you’ll be dealing with multiple cultures and languages do your best to understand the cultures and offer translations or interpreters to make it easier to do business with you. While some would say the first hours (minutes even!?) after are the only appropriate time to respond, I say make sure to respond to all inquiries and orders within 24 hours. Take courses on how to become a better communicator (everyone can improve). Always try to provide a helpful (not pacifying) response, and do your very best to provide real answers and solutions to questions and issues.
These may seem simple but how your business deals with them says something very important about your business: do you care? How you show up is a great indicator of how you and your team feel about the business and your customers. It shows whether you care about what you’re selling and about the people buying. What does your first impression say about you?