If you want to keep customers for a long time, you want to make sure that you give customers a great first impression. For many years, the business world has assumed that the best way to make that great first impression is to offer a firm handshake and a powerful greeting. New findings, however, indicate that demonstrating warmth and competence may be far more beneficial than simply showing off how powerful we are.
Making a first impression with a customer is incredibly important. Customers that are pleased with the service they receive tell their friends and relatives, and your good reputation increases. But customers are more likely to spread negative experiences than they are positive ones.
Demonstrating warmth in the age of social media and digital interaction may seem difficult, but a few simple tricks can make it organic and simple.
Social media overall
More and more often, customers turn to social media to get an idea of what sort of business they’ll be dealing with. Up to three quarters of customers look to social media to guide their purchasing decisions. It’s important for businesses to have a social media presence, and for that presence to be professional. Now, professional doesn’t have to be the same as formal, if that’s not a company’s brand. But businesses should be careful what they share and stay focused on industry news and their own company.
That said, customers will often appreciate seeing their own stories shared (with permission). If a customer tweets at a business that they had a great experience, for example, the business could RT that experience to share with their followers.
After Hours Service
Only the absolute biggest businesses can be open all the time. At some point, your customers are going to bump into a greeting designed to assist them after hours. Offering great service at this time can do great things for your business. Consider:
Offering a descriptive after hours greeting. Nothing is worse than calling a small business and getting the standard answering machine message. Take the time to invest in a friendlier greeting that thanks the customer for calling, gives them some basic information, and offers them the chance to leave a message. You might:
List the address of the business
Indicate open hours
Let them know that they can leave a message
Give them a realistic time frame for a call back.
- Remember that your customers may try to reach you after hours through email and on social media platforms. There’s not much you can do about auto-responding on Twitter, but on Facebook, bots can be set up to offer basic information, then promise to forward appropriate information to a team with an indication of when the customer will hear back.
Customers who know they’ll be taken care of after hours are more likely to trust your business during the hours you’re open.
Many businesses either rely on Facebook to offer basic information to their customers, or put up a website once and never update it. Both of these solutions are less than ideal.
When you allow Facebook to manage your customer interactions, you never have the chance to get the information of your followers for yourself. Facebook goes out of its way to hide the names of the various people who follow your business; this ties you to Facebook as a platform. Facebook also picks and chooses what it shows your followers. This means that your page generally lacks both warmth and compassion.
While social media can offer some direct customer interactions that are invaluable, social media should always be considered a platform that funnels people towards your webpage. On your webpage, you should have a way to capture customer information, such as an email newsletter. This gives you ownership over your own customer contact information.
At the same time, your website can – and should – be organized in a way that showcases your company’s competence. Blogs that demonstrate expertise, landing pages that promise high quality service, and simple, clean interfaces all show that your company is up to date and ready to serve at a high level.
This should be obvious, but some companies still get this wrong. Any area where you interact with your customers should be clean and neat. Check out areas should be uncluttered, shelves should be dusted, conference tables shouldn’t have coffee cup stains.
First impressions are said to take approximately seven seconds to form, which means that a customer isn’t listening for your great sales pitch if they walk into a location that feels messy and cluttered. No matter how disordered we may let our personal spaces be, professional spaces are associated with business-first – and that means keeping them neat.
The same is true for websites and social media. Don’t clutter up your homepage with flashing graphics and endless side-bars. Think very carefully before you use pop-ups to capture email addresses. They may be back in fashion, but people don’t like them any more than they ever did.
By making sure those first customer impressions are great ones, you not only keep the customers you have, but you increase the chance of bringing in new customers. It’s well worth the effort.