First impressions count. Whether in our personal or professional lives, we’re intrinsically wired to judge people, for better or worse, almost immediately.
A study from the Harvard Faculty of Communications found that…
“It only takes seven seconds for you to make a first impression”.Harvard Faculty of Communications
When it comes to your customer facing teams, are you prepared to take the risk on a sub-par first impression?
If so, it might well be your competitors’ lucky day…
Problem Process & Mismatched Information
Picture the scene.
You arrive to your meeting, in store or onsite, with the prospect you’ve been trying to land for weeks. This is the make or break conversation. You all settle in, open up the files and start discussing their brand new project.
Except, wait a minute, the client starts looking confused…
Client: “we’ve made several revisions to the project since we submitted this version to you. Prior to our first meeting today, we shared them with your colleague last week”.
You: “oh really? My apologies, remind me again what alterations were made”.
Client: “they were quite extensive. We also spoke about a new range that we were eligible for a 20% discount on”.
You: “(begins to sweat) okay, one moment please. Let me just bring those documents up/see if I can speak to my colleague. Can you remember who it was?”
Client: “I think it was Andy, he recognised your name but said he didn’t work in this store”.
Cue awkward looks, long pauses, a lot of scrambling around trying to find out what they’re talking about. All whilst not losing the sale.
Not an enjoyable conversation to have.
Point is, mismatched information, brought about by an inconsistent process can make you look at best, unprofessional.
Customers want a trusted advisor who they can lean on for the best insight and experience; anything less and you’re on shaky ground.
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.
If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.“Warren Buffett
So how to avoid this sticky situation?
Adhering to a consistent process and encouraging accountability across a business ensures you arrive to every conversation fully up to speed, ready to wow the customer.
Impressing With Consistent Process
First impressions are created by your employees and by extension, your workflows.
Whether that first customer interaction is digital, face to face, or a hybrid of the two, it makes no difference.
You wouldn’t want a client to experience a dramatically varying level of service depending on who, where or how they interact with you!
Fortunately, there are ways in which you can support the efforts of your employees. These in turn help to improve workflows to amaze both customers and prospects alike.
Introducing a continually improving digital strategy aligned to a proven process is the best place to start.
Diving deeper into the afore mentioned Harvard study, they concluded that…
Companies shouldn’t delay investing in dedicated software systems that can streamline and automate customer facing processes, reduce errors and eliminate inconsistencies.
When a company’s CRM or service software doesn’t track all interactions and tie them together across all channels (email, phone, social media, live chat etc.) then the customer will receive a fragmented customer experience.”Craig Borowski (Harvard Faculty of Communications)
Instead of being made up from several, isolated interactions; your customer experience should feel like a single, flowing entity.
Returning to our cringe worthy example conversation, to the client, their project is the most important thing on your plate.
A perceived lack of communication indicates either a lack of interest or a lack of competence which can drastically alter their perception of your brand’s reliability and trustworthiness.
Similarly, any delays, whether from sourcing information or chasing up errant briefs, have a direct knock on effect in an increasingly competitive business landscape.
Coming out of arguably the hardest year for retailers in recent memory, the risk you place on yourself by having an inconsistent customer process can create significantly deeper problems than simply souring a first impression.
Best Practice Becomes Second Nature
Developing a consistent process means that before long, your bespoke best practice quickly becomes second nature to your team.
Increased transparency across the organisation ensures communications are never missed and the latest version of any client documentation, be it design briefs or order forms, is always to hand.
By having each individual, store or region working to the same format, fewer gaps are left as accountability increases and transferable insight elevates the abilities of everyone involved.
Rather than stumbling at the first hurdle, having a consistent process ensures your teams can adopt a winning formula for each of their conversations.
Data is accessible. Project progress easy to identify. Areas of cross selling opportunities highlighted.
Reducing inconstancies across your operation ensures that whenever you get the opportunity to create a first impression, the customer leaves happy and content that you are the right company for the job.
Intrigued to learn more? Check out our Insights Hub to keep your business at the cutting edge.
May 6th, 2021-