Common wisdom holds that you only get one chance at a first impression, the best opportunity to influence on a person’s overall opinion than anything that follows.
Yes, it’s true that a first impression can only happen once. But first impressions are also happening all the time. Every interaction between a business and a customer begins with an opportunity to set the customer’s expectation of their experience.
Simple friendly gestures and a professional attitude may seem like small things, but they can make a big difference on the front lines of customer service. Customer-facing personnel get dozens of opportunities a day to put these principles into practice, but it doesn’t fall only on their shoulders. It’s the top-to-bottom culture of a business, down to the individual workplace, that supports a superior customer experience at every touch point.
Not every first impression happens face-to-face, of course. These days, a business’s digital presence creates even more touch points. Every visit to your website, social network profiles, and mobile site or app, and every email or SMS message you deliver to your audience, is another opportunity for a first impression.
Customers care as much about useful and attractive website or app design, and polite, engaging behavior on social media, as they do about the behavior of a customer service rep. This is where customer experience and user experience overlap.
Whether considering a personal interaction or a digital one, the same fundamental rules of first impressions apply:
- Be polite and courteous. Etiquette may have evolved over the years, but basic good manners still matter. Don’t underestimate the importance of Please and Thank You.
- Be friendly, from the heart. Trust your customers to be able to spot the difference between parroted or forced friendliness and genuine interest. Even a scripted response delivered in a pleasant tone of voice can create a smoother experience.
- Be timely. Make it clear you are ready, willing, and able to help. In the age of instant on-demand gratification, customers don’t like to be kept waiting for a resolution or be given the run-around between different resources and personnel.
- Be thoughtful and considerate. Empathize with customers and strive to anticipate their needs and accommodate their challenges. This goes double for customers who are bringing a complaint to your attention.
- Use the customer’s name – for in-person and phone greetings, when interacting with them on social media, and with custom fields on your website and email templates. “Dear Customer” could be anyone.
The customer experience is a journey, and every step along that journey contributes to long-term loyalty and satisfaction. So treat every step like it’s the first.
For more information about CSP’s customer experience strategies and the programs we build to support them, contact us today by phone at (402) 399-8790 ext:101, via our website, or on Twitter @csprofiles.