Every successful business owner knows the importance of a strong, positive first impression, especially in the competitive post-pandemic market. Customers are likely to evaluate multiple factors about the way you and your business are presented within the first seven seconds of meeting you, deciding whether they will patronize your company in a short span of time.
If you make a bad first impression, it is possible that some will stick around to allow you a second chance at wooing them, but that is rare, as customers (like most of us) are prone to making snap judgments and trusting their gut. Seeing as you will never get another chance to make a first impression, you and your subordinates should endeavor to appear as professional, amiable, and coherent as possible.
However, how do business owners know what customers are going to take into account when they meet with them for the first time? Which factors are more important, and if overlooked, which ones are likely to send a would-be shopper running in the other direction?
Cultivating a professional image has much more to it than making sure your employees wear professional attire and plaster a smile on their faces, and if you fail to maintain a clean, professional façade across the board, you’ll likely lose more customers than you gain.
With that in mind, here are some factors that customers are likely to weigh when considering the quality of your professional façade, as well as how they factor into their first impressions of your company.
Keeping HQ Looking Clean and Organized
One of the most commonly overlooked factors that customers are likely to weigh heavily is the appearance of your headquarters, specifically the front lawn and parking lot. When a customer pulls up to your HQ, they should see a well-maintained, vibrant green lawn, as well as beautiful flower beds and outside ornamentation where available. They should also see a completely clean parking lot, one free of trash and detritus such as cigarette butts and crumpled aluminum cans.
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The outside appearance of your HQ is the first thing most customers will see, and so (in a way) is your most important sales representative: aside from meeting your reps at an event or something similar, most customers will develop their first impression of your company based on your building’s outdoor appearance alone.
If you look out your window and see scores of dead grass, landscaping work that needs to be done, or trash littering the parking lot, you may need to do a bit of DIY work. Feel free to invest in some landscaping tools for your company, as well as rent other assets that may be of use to you as you clean up your lawn.
Body Language is Key
You can smile and use the customer service voice all you want, as those are two important tools in every sales representative’s arsenal; but if your body language reads as exhausted or hostile, the resulting uncanny valley effect will make customers flee from your building like they’ve encountered a monster out of a Stephen King novel.
Customers are actually very, very good at reading body language, and the subtle cues that you give off as a representative have an impact on the overall effectiveness of your presentation. Think relaxed shoulders, open hands, and frequent, gentle gestures; rigidity or a lack of warmth behind the eyes will put the customer off and impart an image of falseness that will be hard to shake.
Appearance, Appearance, Appearance
Your appearance and your subordinates’ presentation should be neat, professional, and prim and proper as Nanny McPhee on a Sunday morning. Typical rules for hygiene maintenance should be followed, with not a whiff of BO to be discovered anywhere, and clothes and shoes should be clean, free from mud and food stains.
While accidents tend to happen, and most people are aware of that (and sometimes, forgiving), the appearance of your associates will be a major factor in customers’ first impressions; and besides, maintaining professional standards for appearance has been known to help associates get into a working mindset, enhancing their productivity.
While the adage may go “don’t judge a book by its cover,” customers rarely ever follow that sage advice, therefore, you should be sure that when meeting a new customer or engaging with the public, you always present an immaculate face to the world.