When you meet a new customer, you have approximately 90 seconds to build a relationship and a sense of being known with the customer. First, you must create a good first impression so that the customer likes you. Then, you should personalize the interaction to make the conversation more meaningful, and a better use of the customer’s time. Lastly, you should customize a recommendation for the customer based upon what you have learned, which will endear him or her and build a foundation for a long-term relationship. If you’re doing it correctly, this process only takes about 90 seconds. In this blog, we will focus on the first impression.
Most people develop relationships reactively, which is to say that they occur organically. If you’ve ever become friends with someone you sat next to in class, or a neighbor, then that was reactive. When you make an effort to develop a relationship for business networking, with a customer, or to make new friends intentionally, that is called proactively developing relationships. Proactively creating relationships is a skill, which is sometimes known as the art of picking someone up (either romantically or professionally).
In order to make new acquaintances proactively, you must create a good first impression. This has the biggest impact on whether you are going to establish a relationship with a new person or not. What are first impressions? They are snap judgments you make about someone or something within ten seconds of the first encounter.
Why do they matter the most? There are many reasons, which include:
- They are often your only impression.
- If you do not make a good first impression, people won’t give you the chance to make a second one.
- First impressions are self-fulfilling prophecies: if you make a good first impression then people will notice good things about you. Conversely, if you make a bad first impression, people will notice negative things about you, which they might have otherwise overlooked.
- People decide if you are a good use of their time, or if you are going to waste it. If they decide you are not a good use of time, they will avoid doing business with you.
When people meet you, they are paying attention to how attentive you are, the greeting you use, and your overall attitude. Although it’s listed last, your attitude is the most important element of your first impression. Your attitude is your response or reaction to everything around you.
“A person with a great attitude will always give you great service; a person with a poor attitude will always deliver poor service.”
– Service Axiom
Why do you think this is an axiom? It is true, because attitude is the number one thing that makes us feel. We make others feel things through our behavior, which is why people enjoy being around others who have great attitudes.
Act to change your attitude when it is bad, and you will not only improve your own customers’ experiences, but you will also influence your colleagues to be more positive: in the same way that a negative peer brings you down, you can bring others up.
When you offer a customer your full attention, a warm greeting, and demonstrate that you have a great attitude, you are making a great first impression. This first impression is the groundwork to build a personalized interaction that will allow you to customize recommendations for the customer in the future.