Identifying the Importance of First Impressions

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By Amanda Herder, Training Account Manager, Signature Worldwide

The day arrived for this not-so-frequent traveler: my big arrival in Nashville, TN. Eager to get to my hotel and collapse, I quickly gathered my bags and headed to get my rental car. I soon realized that, as with everything in the country capital of the world, my choices of rental car companies were far from limited. Lucky for me, the choice already was made for me by my company travel department. As I approached what seemed like a really long counter with three rental car companies and four agents, I was a little overwhelmed. As it turned out, I was only greeted by two of the rental car companies. The first company had two associates who stood talking among themselves, not even acknowledging what was going on around them. At the second company, the associate stood with her arms folded across her chest with a glaring look on her face that told me to run and run fast. The third company’s agent stood with his arms wide open, huge smile on his face, quickly saying, “Welcome to Nashville, how may I help you?” I explained to the agent that rental car No. 2 was the rental car company my car was through. The agent happily told me that was “great news” since they recently merged under the same company, so I could choose any agent I liked.

You probably can imagine my relief at hearing this news since I did not have to approach the very distant looking agent with the not-so-good look and arms crossed! I chose the open arms, wide smile, and great welcoming agent to assist me. I felt he was willing to help me the most and made me feel invited and welcome to have him assist me. So, I ask you, who would you have chosen to help you?

Virtually Irreversible

First impressions not only impact the consumer, they strongly impact the seller. They impact the seller’s branding, image, and the consumer’s choice to do business with that company. First impressions take place within the first few seconds of meeting. It is natural human behavior to judge while looking for surface clues to who the person really is. First impressions happen only once and are virtually irreversible. If a negative impression is set, you may lose the attention and interest of your customer. A good impression will captivate your customer; they will want to do business with your company.

There are many forms of first impressions depending on the type of business you are in. People will derive an opinion from your overall look, starting with the outside of your company all the way to employees’ attire, demeanor, body language, and mannerisms, which ultimately represent the company they work for. Some tips we often forget to keep in mind:

  • Curb appeal: Make sure your location has green or upkept landscaping, clean parking lots, and well-maintained sidewalks for a grand entrance.
  • Entrance appeal: Cleanliness is the key. Be sure your entrance or lobby is organized and clear of dust and clutter. The ambiance should be warm and inviting.
  • Personal appearance: Keep jewelry to the minimum. Shirts should be tucked in and attire should professional and match your audience or branding.
  • Attitude: Be positive. Attitudes show in everything you say and do, even if you think you are hiding it. Stay focused on where you are and what you’re doing in the moment.
  • Telephone: Answer the phone in a timely manner. Be polite and courteous and give the caller your full attention.

The impact your first impression makes has the ability to carry throughout the entire relationship with your client—from the beginning, through the middle, and all the way to the end. Each touchpoint you have with that customer will forever take them back to that powerful first impression.

Keep in mind that you only have one chance to create a first impression—a lasting impression that may affect the outcome of the customer interaction and the impression the customer has of your company. People remember how you make them feel. Make them feel legendary!

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