“We don’t know where our first impressions come from or precisely what they mean, so we don’t always appreciate their fragility” – Malcolm Gladwell
It would serve everyone well to understand the importance of first impressions really being the most important and the lasting one. You will get second chances, but never to remake that first impression. It is a scary thought from a business perspective given that you are constantly dealing with situations that are changing and customers who are now highly sensitive to shoddy service. Businesses that pro-actively focus on each customer interaction and treat each one like it was the first are the ones that are most successful. If they experience great Customer Service you can be sure to be creating a lasting impression on them – an impression that will allow them to overlook minor lapses and continue to do business with you. When each interaction is happy and memorable they will always consider your company’s brand before any others and also make sure to let their friends and associates know about you. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and imagine whether your customer service would be creating a lasting impression on them. Think of how you can make each interaction great and get your customers to go ‘wow’.
– Do what no one else is doing. Create a lasting impression by doing exceptional things for them that won’t cost you much but are perceivably high value for the customer. Each interaction should leave your customer with so much that they want to reward you with added business and even call in their friends. Serving your customers excellent customer service every time will make your customer sit up and take notice and will be the reason they talk well about you. Ask them to rate your service on a public forum – your bold stance on feedback will create a lasting impression on them about your commitment to excel. They will remember you.
– “In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different” – Coco Chanel. Copying or tweaking what your competitor is doing will most certainly not get you the desired results. As the quote says – do something so stand out and personalized that your customer will never think of going elsewhere. Instead of aping what your competitors do well, pick up things they are failing at and pack a punch in those. See how even their customers make a beeline for you.
– Being open and transparent in everything you do also goes a long way in creating a lasting impression. It could be as small as sharing minor success to sharing annual reports. Your company’s customer centric culture could be one of your defining characteristics and also gives your customers an insight in to your company’s ‘personality’.
– Remain in touch and remain visible. Ensure that your customer ‘sees’ you on social media, email, on interactive videos and an up to date company website. Your customer can clearly see the commitment and effort your company is willing to make to keep them focused on you. With time as you continue to deliver great customer service, you will have more customer feedback that is positive, which you can proudly display on all the communication channels. This ‘customer speak’ is a big draw for others who want to be served exceptionally.
– Being open, visible and customer centric builds and enhances customer rapport and trust. The first great impression becomes a lasting impression and doing business becomes so much easier and even fun. Not that tough to comprehend, huh?
– Great customer service also means remaining attentive and catching on to the unsaid customer needs. When you are attentive each customer will perceive a personal touch in the interaction. A new customer being given your company’s brochure and complete pack of information neatly, inscribed with the customer’s name and hand delivered is sure way to creating a lasting impression. Of course, you must remember to be consistent in your approach. Regular and loyal customers also must be consistently made to feel special. Give them a ‘VIP preview’ of possible launches or first experience of a new product or service. They are your veterans and no one can tell you better about your offering, than them.
– Don’t leave them guessing. Empower your customer service team to be able to reach out to them periodically to let them know what’s going on. Let them how you used their feedback and what the results were and thank them for taking the time out to provide their valuable opinion. When your customers see the importance you attach to them, they are more likely to remain with you. After all, as humans, we all like to know that we are important and what we say matters.
– Each interaction must end on ‘high note’ for the customer. He or she must be able to perceive that something extra that they will want to come back to you for. For example – if your business is retail store and your customer is an elderly person, having someone carry the shopping bags to his or her car, is sure to put a smile on their lips and a lasting impression in their heart. Stores like Walmart are hugely successful for these thoughtful and impressionable touches they add to each customer that walks in. It is no surprise that their customers have been shopping with them for years and even seek out their stores when they go outside of their home towns. The power of great customer service cannot be undermined or over-emphasized. This quote by the Founder of this great retail chain sums it up well – “Each Wal-Mart store should reflect the values of its customers and support the vision they hold for their community”. Sam Walton. I for one am more inclined to visit the same gas station, since the ever-smiling attendant makes sure that he cleans my car’s wind-shield and windows and despite trying on each visit to offer him some token of my appreciation, he never takes it. He seems content in delivering great customer service and as a result guaranteeing business for the company he works for. Truly amazing.
– As a practice your customer service team must ensure that a customer interaction ends on a positive note. When you are able to keep them happy, you are also able to hold their attention. You certainly cannot expect a grumpy and irate customer to be interested in other related offerings. Only a satisfied customer will lend you a few more minutes and listen attentively to any new or related products and even consider buying them. Give your customers a pleasant and fulfilling ‘send-off’ till you get a chance to speak with them again. Adequate and pertinent training for your customer service staff will ensure they can differentiate between building a relationship and just being plain obtrusive. It’s a very fine line that separates the two.
Irrespective of the business you are in, it has been and will always be very important that customers remember you. And I mean for the right reasons and positive experiences they have had in their interactions with your company. Thinking as a customer, can you identify the reasons you would do business with you?! Would you be able to confidently say that there is no one even close to delivering the kind of customer service that you feel is creating a lasting impression on your customers? When your customer service teams are adept at blending their empathy with the vigor of the customer, they will make the right impact on your customers. Customers will be able to perceive unfeigned interest and a commitment to serve. Through this exposition we hope that we have been able to take confident strides forward and towards creating a lasting impression on your customers that will keep you successfully in business.
“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” Sam Walton