When it comes to customer experience, first impressions are everything. It takes about seven seconds for someone to form an impression of you and your company —seven seconds, to make a red carpet impression that could pave the way for a long-term customer relationship.
But the truth is, while first impressions are easy to make, they can be pretty difficult to change. If you don’t get it right from the very moment a customer walks through the door, you might never get another chance. So, those first few moments have to be pretty great if you want your customers to return, refer new customers, and give you those confident five-star reviews.
Now that your company is opening up again, it’s time to get back to the customer service basics. Here are five simple tips that will help to bring your customer service first impression up to the red-carpet level.
Learn and use your customers’ names
Ditch the “sweetheart”, “honey”, other so-called terms of endearment, and refer to people by their names – their actual names. Why is it so important? It’s said that a person’s name is the closest connection to their identity or personality. When you use someone’s name, it’s a sign of courtesy and respect for them as an individual.
There are many ways to learn someone’s name. You could sneak peek at the paperwork they’ve given you, introduce yourself, secretly ask a coworker, or just ask. If you’re on the phone, write it down when they give it to you. Stop saying “I’m not good with names” and start getting intentional about learning and using them. You’ll make your customers feel more than welcome – they’ll feel like part of the family.
Know your stuff
Become familiar with the products and services your company offers. What’s on the menu, so to speak? Take the initiative to keep up to date and learn as much as you can so you can confidently answer questions.
The more you know, the more impressed your customers will be. No one wants to go through two to three persons before they get an answer. Instead, leave them remembering how helpful and knowledgeable you are. If you’re the boss, ensure you keep your team updated about the products and services FAQs. The better they know, the better they can help your customers.
Stand up straight
Your body language or posture is another subtle yet significant element that contributes to creating good first impressions. When interacting with customers, stand up straight, and maintain a good posture. It’s important your body language shows you’re involved in the conversation and supports your willingness and readiness to offer assistance.
When you lean against walls, desks, or the reception area, you communicate “I’m tired and bored and don’t have a lot of energy”. But when you sit or stand up straight, you communicate “I’m here and I’m ready to help”.
Thank them and invite them back
Okay, I know technically, this comes under as the last impression but isn’t that what you want? For your customers to come back. Then, be sure to invite them. Be sure to thank your customers after each interaction, and invite them to come back another time. Recognizing that your customers have a choice and showing genuine appreciation that they chose you goes a long way to creating a good first (or second, or third) experience.
It’s as simple as inviting them back.. Let them know you’re looking forward to seeing them around again. It’s a good opportunity to bring out those red-carpet customer service phrases like, “Thanks for stopping by, Anna! We’d love to see you again”.
Watch your language
I’m not particularly talking about cussing, which, of course, never a good first impression makes. What I mean is to try to elevate your language from negative to positive and from disinterested to invested in their happiness. So, instead of saying “No problem”, say “My pleasure”. Or instead of “No worries”, say “I’d be delighted to help”. These thoughtful phrases surely instill confidence in your customers and leave a lasting impression.. For more of these phrases, check out the previous post where we discussed those appropriate customer service words and phrases that can wow anybody.
First impressions matter because customers remember them. It’s an unforgettable experience that forms the basis of future relationships. Your customer’s first impression will determine if there’d be a second time or that’d be the last time. So, by all means, make it count!
Donna Cutting is the author of 3 books including the Amazon bestseller 501 Ways to Roll Out the Red Carpet for Your Customers and the forthcoming book, Employees First! Inspire, Engage, and Focus on the HEART of Your Organization. (Coming in March, 2022)