Do you ever walk around your neighbourhood and wonder about the people living there? I do. I, like most, will gather a first impression about someone by how they take care of their yard. Some people have immaculate yards, some nicely maintain a yard and others, well, they might want to think about living in a condo! The next time you walk through your neighbourhood, contemplate the conclusions you develop about the home owners in your neighbourhood. We all do it!
In his book “Blink”, Malcolm Gladwell writes about ‘rapid cognition, thinking that happens in the blink of an eye’. He says that in the first two seconds your mind jumps to a series of conclusions about something. You don’t have 30 seconds or 15 seconds; you have 2 seconds before conclusions are drawn from a person’s first impression. That’s a pretty powerful piece of information.
No one gets to choose a neighbour; they come and go based on influences outside of our control. We do, however, have to live with them, (so to speak). People care for their own little piece of land and convey an impression based on what they wish to put forth revealing what they hope the world to know or believe about them. Others don’t think it matters.
Conclusions are immediately drawn by immaculate yard owners about messy yard owners and it doesn’t matter if the untidy owners are Nobel Peace Prize winners, our immaculate yard owner will have them painted with a sour and even angry brush.
What do yards have to do with Leadership and Customer Service?
The first impression you or your company offers is astoundingly important.
Great sales people know this and present themselves appropriately to the customer based on customer values. Companies with large marketing departments know this and present a consistent Brand or Image while spending thousands on learning more about their customers.
Small businesses who serve an exclusive clientele are exceptional at it and con-artists could teach courses in it.
Making a great first impression!
That first impression is the key to building a longer relationship with prospective customers. Even more importantly, companies who are good at it know their market enough to “dress” to the market. They know what the customer values and expects and successful businesses meet that expectation.
In business, some leaders begin to lose sight of what’s there, much like a teenager won’t notice the dust in a home or will walk over something in their way without picking it up; business owners will forget to LOOK at their business with the keen eye of a new prospective customer. A restaurant will forget to dust the three-hundred dollar hand blown light fixtures; another business owner doesn’t notice their sign has 2 unlit letters.
First impressions are about the details and a customer can see and capture hundreds of details in a split second. Customers look at an exclusive price on a menu and wonder where the money is going, dust on the lights, a broken glass panel, bathroom is dated, etc. Then they draw a 2 second conclusion: “This restaurant is not worth the money I am paying.”, and they choose not to return, even if the food is exceptional.
Don’t fall into the trap of believing your product or service is the only reason your customer is there.
Consumers come wanting some personal ‘feel good’ about having spent money with you, especially in difficult times. Consumers are watching their pennies and want to make sure they have a decent experience for their dollar. You are feeding their emotions as much as you are supplying them with goods or services. Offering an exceptional experience along with goods and services will make a huge difference in both gaining that prospective customer and keeping them.
When cutting costs, be aware of what first impressions you make with a potential client and what kind of an experience you are providing your existing customer. Take away the experience, and you risk losing them. Check out your competition, or even the area in which your business is located, does your store-front, building, awning or reception area provide a better first impression than other businesses or are you the neighbour who doesn’t think it matters?
What if that messy, weed-filled and overgrown yard is owned by a Nobel Peace Prize winner and she lives next to you? Do you care about her brain or are you frustratingly wishing she would clean up her act so all the weeds don’t spread to your side of the yard? Are you wanting to invite her over for a BBQ and laude her intelligence or do you just wish she would move?
Leaders, how about you, does your business need a weed whacker?
Strategic Sense is a Leadership Development, Customer Service, Plans of Action and Facilitation organization who’s mission is to change the world for the better for leaders and their employees everywhere. We believe each individual comes with their own unique talents and skills that can be enhanced and utilized to help them become the very best leaders only they can be while providing exceptional service to their customers.
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