First Impressions …. are your staff getting it right?



First Impressions …. are your staff getting it right?

Part 2 First Impressions – how do your staff react to your customers?

There is a great scene from the film Pretty Women (with Julia Roberts as Vivian), this is a great example of creating a wrong first impression and not allowing ourselves the opportunity to challenge it…The background to the scene is that she has been given a lot (and I mean a lot) of money by Richard Gere’s character to go and get clothes for some occasions he wants to take her to.  The trouble is that Julia Roberts Character is very comfortable in her short lycra skirts and her low cut tops.  She walks into a boutique on Rodeo Drive, excited about her shopping spree…the shop assistants take one look at her (their first impression is being created) in her thigh high boots, and cut out T-shirt and make comments such as… “I don’t think this will fit you” and “It’s VERY expensive”. Unbeknown to them she had thousands of dollars to spend in their shop.  Eventually she goes somewhere else and gets a complete wardrobe, she can’t help but return to the first shop, all dressed up with her bags of new clothes…

When we meet someone,  we both form a first impression. Recognising the types of impressions we form of someone else and if necessary, challenging it, can assist to improve our attitude towards, and ultimately the service delivered to, the customer.

In my previous First Impression blog, I wrote about the customer making a first impression about you, your team and the business. In this blog, I’m writing about the first impression your staff makes about the customer!

First Impressions are made up of internal and external factors; here are some examples of them;

Internal Factors External Factors
Personal Biases Clothing
Personal Values Physique
Mood Jewellery
Past Experiences Facial Expressions
Culture Body Movement
Environment Posture

But, does it really matter what your employees THINK about your customers or potential customers?

Simply, YES it does.

What people think about someone can and will influence how they act. A customer can make a poor first impression to a member of staff through no fault of their own, such as (and these are things I’ve actually heard)…. “He had shifty eyes”, “She reminds me of that horrible girl at school” “that clothing is ridiculous and I don’t like it”. If this is how the staff feel about the customer, do you think it is possible that the service these customers received would have been first class? Would the service be good enough to make them return? Would the service be good enough to provide you with free ‘word of mouth’ marketing; telling others how brilliant your organisation is?

Just like a customer will be making a first impression about you and your business, you and your staff will be making first impressions about the customers.

The visual clues we receive from the external factors, makes the first impression in seconds. This is quickly followed by the internal factors that influence our thoughts.

As a service provider our attitude is key to ensuring our regular customers and new customers return. Our attitude is communicated through the impression we make of others.

Treat all your customers with the values and culture that your business set out to be – don’t compromise it and ensure that your teams understand that a customer is a customer and unlike tins of beans – customers will come in a mixture of shapes and sizes!

Sometimes it can be hard when dealing with a particularly difficult customer but ensuring that the service you are providing isn’t influenced by the limiting internal and external factors, will help you to resolve most issues quickly and efficiently. That means returning and new customers every time.

Finally…where customers are concerned, never assume, because as we all know what assumptions make!!







Part 1 First Impressions – The impressions we give, does they really matter?


When one person meets another person, object or scene, they form a mental image. Many studies show that a first impression is formed in milliseconds and they are made primarily from visual clues that we receive.

When it comes to making a good impression to our customers or potential customers, it is so important that the first impression has to be right… the first time.

Firstly, don’t make the mistake in thinking that only the people who need to be concerned about making good impressions are those in a front facing role. To your customers, every person that works in your business is your business!

I was served in a furniture store last week, the sales assistances were brilliant. However, the products I needed were on a high shelf so another assistant was required to use a fork lift truck. From the warehouse appeared the FLT driver using bad language, rude to colleagues and was just very grumpy. Other customers that were passing by simply saw member of staff that represents that business. It’s doesn’t matter where a person works within an organisation, front facing or not, to the customer all employees are the face of the business.

The part that concerns me the most is that when a first impression is made, they are very difficult to change; research says it can take up to 18 encounters to change a negative first impression. In the business world, do you have the resources and time to correct someone’s impression of you, your team and or your business?

Simple things:

Checking appearance before interacting with customers; place a mirror on the back of the last door between the staff area and the customers.

Keep front entrances and public areas clean and tidy; this simply suggests that your work is important and you care about the comfort of others.

Ensure that you greet all customers, don’t assume; give everyone consistent brilliant service.

Be aware of your body language – facial expressions and posture. Negative body language is much louder that words and will form a lasting impression

More importantly – ensure that your entire workforce are fully aware of your standards for delivering excellent customer care for their first, second….every customer encounter.