You only have three seconds to make a first impression. That’s right. THREE.
Don’t believe me? The next time you encounter a stranger, start the countdown and decide how long it takes for you to form an impression of them. And within that nearly non-existent amount of time you too will be completely evaluated, the person on the receiving end will be scrutinizing everything from body language, mannerisms, physical/verbal, and every other little detail from your haircut to your shoes.
It’s only human nature to do so. We’re visual creatures, and the visual perception leaves a strong imprint. How come so many people blow it? Well, because we have many opportunities to blow it – via telephone, in person, or even on the Internet.
Consider the following example, which happened many years ago in a jewelry store. I always make it a point to support small businesses whenever possible and had decided to make a planned purchase at a local jewelry store rather than a large franchised operation.
I entered the store, a small but empty showroom where no one greeted me. After several minutes, an employee finally emerged from the back room. I could hear the television playing and it sounded like a commercial had come on. She asked if she could help me. I said, “I am looking for a heart necklace,” and she showed me the case where they were displayed.
It was then that the phone rang. From the tone of voice and conversation, it was obviously a personal friend. I heard that her daughter had a problem with a teacher, that she had forgotten to take the hamburger out of the freezer, and the fact that oh-how-she-wished that she weren’t at work.
At the end of her phone conversation, she returned to the back room for some reason. When she returned after a short time, she asked, “Have you made a decision?” I smiled and said, “Yes,” and I turned around and left the store.
Now, what’s wrong with this picture? Several things. See how you can avoid making those mistakes; check out these following eight tips on how to give your customer a great first impression:
1. Never, ever, EVER chew gum. And I mean never. While chewing gum itself may freshen your breath, the act of chewing gum shows contempt for your customer.
2. No matter how bad you feel, smile. It won’t kill you! Your customer may feel lousy, too, or they might be having a horrible day. Maybe their dad is in the hospital or their dog just died. But a smile and a warm greeting from you may be the thing they need right now, and it will keep them coming back.
Oh, and by the way, smiling makes YOU feel better. Try it. Right now. See? Don’t you feel better now?
3. Remember – every customer who walks through your door should be the most important thing that has happened all day. Be sure to treat them that way!
4. Even if you’re busy when the customer arrives, acknowledge their presence and let them know you’ll be with them shortly. There’s nothing worse than being ignored when you arrive and made to feel like you are a secondary consideration to the important task at hand!
5. If the customer needs to wait, ask if they would like anything to drink while they wait like water, coffee, or tea. They’ll feel more at home.
6. Engage your customer in small talk, but be sure to not talk TOO much. They don’t want to hear about your life story or the latest information about your surgery or health.
7. Learn to love your customers and enjoy having them around, and DO NOT look or act bored! Whether you think the customer is important or not, THEY think that they are. Don’t let them think that they’re not important!
8. If a customer comments on the beautiful weather, NEVER reply with, “Yeah, too nice to be working!” These comments reflect badly on the company and make the customer feel uncomfortable.
If you follow these tips and keep in mind that the customer is #1, you will be amazed at how your customers will respond. And who knows? That very customer may tell all their family and friends how great you are, and you could generate even more business. Remember, it’s ALL about the attitude!