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A Positive First Impression ...

By: Sarah Cumberland

Retailing is dynamic, demanding and is a constant challenge. To thrive in this
industry, your business needs to be tuned in to your customer needs and
expectations. Nobody can have too much knowledge on the subject, says
Dick Bates, retailer relations manager at est!ield.
"#verybody talks about customer service. Training shouldn$t be just !or
training$s sake but to help the retailer$s bottom line". e provide our
retailers with a program that provides them with the actual skills they need
to put into practice.
The %ustralian Retailers %ssociation &%R%', in partnership with est!ield, has
designed a series o! workshops to help retailers maximise sales, improve
their pro!it margins and create the right buying environment to keep
customers coming back. %ccording to Bates, est!ield doesn$t conduct the
training itsel! because "you don$t ask your landlord to babysit your kids". %n
extract !rom the %R%$s program(
Opening Techniques ) *ou only have one chance to make a positive !irst
impression with the customers in your store.
*our customer should see you as( "help!ul", "warm and !riendly", sincere,
interested, attentive, responsive to their needs, con!ident and positive. But
the impression your customers have o! your business can be !ormed even
be!ore you have a chance to impress them with your product knowledge and
service skills. +ome research shows that customers will !orm their !irst
impression o! your business within the !irst , to - seconds o! coming into
contact with your store....this can occur even while the customer is outside
your business.
*our opening techni.ue will also impact your customer$s impression o! the
business, and their willingness to buy. The /pening should include two
distinct steps(
0%cknowledge1 and
The acknowledgement o! the customer serves no other purpose than to let
the customer know that you have seen them and know that they are in the
methods include:
0#ye contact1
0% wave1 and2or
0+ome type o! welcoming comment.
The acknowledgement is like an invisible string connecting you to the
customer, and the customer ) through their actions ) will indicate how you
should approach them and the service they are seeking. The
acknowledgement makes the approach a much more com!ortable experience
!or you and the customer.
*our approach can take on one o! three !orms, depending on the actions o!
your customer(
1. Serice!
". #erchandise! or
$. %reeting.
1. Serice
The service approach is ideal !or the customer who walks straight up to the
counter and2or you. They know what they want, may need to ask a .uestion
or may pick up an item and move straight to the counter area. This
customer should be welcomed and served as .uickly as possible.
". #erchandise
% customer is looking at a particular item o! stock. They may be reading the
label, looking at the box or touching the product. +elect a product !eature
&characteristic' and start a conversation with the customer, about that
$. %reeting
*our customer may be walking through the store, pu33led or looking a little
hassled. %pproach and start a conversation. Don$t use the old retailer$s
!avourite "4an 5 help */67" 8ike most o! us, you will get the "No thanks9 5$m
just looking." response. +tart the conversation about something the
customer is wearing, a community or social event that may be occurring in
your local area, the number o! people about or, i! appropriate, even the
hether you use the +ervice, :erchandise or ;reeting approach techni.ue
the key is to get your customer talking, !ind out what they need and want
and provide them with a solution to those needs.
The est!ield Retail +ales +kills orkshops will include seven steps in the
sales process including(
1. Opening Techniques and!
". %athering in&ormation &rom your customer!
$. Selling #erchandise Bene&its to your customers!
'. (andling Customers Concerns) in making a commitment to the
selling process!
*. +inalising the sales and getting the commitment to buy &rom the
,. -rapping up the process and initing the customer back into the
store! and
.. /ealing with the /i&&icult Customer situation.
Serice /own The 0ine
est!ield has moved to internet retailing with the announcement that it has
!ormed a team to develop an 5nternet +hoppingtown.Research undertaken
over the past two years has highlighted the potential !or est!ield to extend
the range o! services it o!!ers to both retailers and customers. "e are
continually broadening the range o! services we can o!!er retailers and their
customers and the internet is one o! them, as are the est!ield <isa credit
card and the many in)centre customer services," says est!ield managing
director, David 8owy. "e see the internet as an opportunity to enhance
business in the +hoppingtowns.
This will be an important element in our strategy as consumers increasingly
look !or the $out o! home$ experience as well as the convenience internet
retailing might o!!er. "e also believe est!ield is well placed to help
retailers develop a meaning!ul on)line presence. This includes small
businesses which might not have the resources as well as medium and
larger businesses that don$t wish to $go it alone$ on the internet."est!ield
+hoppingtowns already maintain an internet presence through the
company$s corporate websites in %ustralia and the 6+%. These are
in!ormation only sites.
The new internet +hoppingtown will be completely di!!erent in design and
operation. The strategy is based on three key !actors( 0est!ield$s uni.ue
brand which is synonymous with shopping0 the potential to integrate the
extensive est!ield +hoppingtown port!olio with online services ) more than
=>? million visits are made to est!ield +hoppingtowns in %ustralia each
year, with @,@?? retail outlets generating A> billion in sales.0 its experience
in aggregating retail services and marketing them to the consumer.Building
the site will be similar to building a new centre.
10easing agents1 will convince retailers to take space on the est!ield site,
using the well known brand to attract customers.ith online shopping taking
o!! worldwide, and 6+ based retailers taking a large share o! the pie,
%ustralian retail web sites need to develop a strong presence to capitalise on
the trend. "Bor retailers, online shopping is a power!ul direct marketing and
selling tool, which holds enormous potential !or growth over the next !ew
years," says 4hrista Davies, ninemsn$s director o! shopping.
ine retailer, ineplanet, ; and computer retailer, Carris
Technology, have partnered with ninemsn to provide internet shopping
services."/nline shopping is just another option !or people right now, but in
the next couple o! years it will become the way o! doing things," says
Douglas 4arlson, managing director o! ; 5t is simply a
better business model !or the perishable !ood industry. e reduce inventory
because we buy only what we need when we need it. The customer tells us
what they want and we buy the produce on a daily basis."
First impressions are everything.
We have all seen examples of this in our personal lives. When we meet someone new their
appearance, tone of voice, manners (or lack of!) all have a very big effect on us.
When a customer calls or goes into an office, business or agency the first person they talk to
represents the entire company. This goes even further with people who are traveling to new
places: ust !"# rotten experience with a ru$e %customer service person& can ever after sour the
person's attitu$e to the entire city, region, or country!!!
To the customer (!) are the company. * goo$ first impression starts a positive relationship with
your customers. !n the other han$ a poor first impression can sometime en$ the relationship
right there. *n$ when you factor in wor$ of mouth an$ how many other people the customer may
talk to about their ba$ experience with your company you can see how important first
impressions can be.
* ba$ first impression is not impossible to un$o, but it sure takes a lot of effort. The point is if
you make a great first impression things are a +!T easier.
+et's look at things from the customer's point of view:
When a customer calls or walks into a business for the first time they may be: happy, anxious,
worrie$, lost, angry, frustrate$, excite$, or possibly all of the above! When you, as a customer,
are new to a business you $on't know anyone, you're not familiar with how things work. (ou
$on't know if you're going to like it there, if they will provi$e goo$ service, if they will be
frien$ly or helpful. There are a lot of $oubts an$ ,uestions! -any customers go in to a business
for the first time actually expecting things to go ba$ly. .ome even %get rea$y for battle& before
hea$ing off to a new restaurant, hotel, $octor or auto mechanic.
When you meet anyone new %little things& can affect your attitu$e towar$s the person very fast.
/f you alrea$y have a relationship with someone, an$ that person has a ba$ $ay or is in a ba$
moo$ it probably won't ruin or en$ your relationship. 0ut if the person is new to you ust one or
two small negative points coul$ en$ your relationship with the person right there.
.peaking of first impressions, it is vital that you, as the customer service professional, $o not
make any assumptions about customers. 1u$ging a customer by their appearance or how they
speak is a huge mistake.
.o, anyone working on the front lines is suppose$ to $o everything to make sure that they give
all customers a great first impression an$ at the same time be sure to "!T let your first
impressions of the customer in any way prevent you from $elivering the best possible service.
This can be a tall or$er sometimes.
Greeting a customer
*lways make eye contact with the customer the first secon$ they come in. #ven if you are with
another customer or on the phone, make eye contact an$ acknowle$ge that they are there
imme$iately. * simple gesture tells the new person that you see them an$ will be right with them.
Smile! Smile! Smile! Smile! Smile! Smile!
(our greeting shoul$ tell the customer, %/ am gla$ you're here!&
2reetings such as:
%2oo$ morning! 3ow can / help you to$ay4&
%3ello, how is your $ay going so far4& What can / help you with to$ay4&
%3i, we haven't seen you in a while!&
%Welcome, what can / $o for you to$ay4&
%2oo$ afternoon! What can we $o for you to$ay4&
* frien$ly greeting imme$iately $isarms the person an$ sets them at ease. /t sets the tone for the
rest of the interaction. "o matter what the customer's emotional state this will make things better.
This is probably the single most important point for anyone working in any position where they
greet customers.
Every person who walks in the door
#very person who comes in -).T be greete$ in the most frien$ly way possible: new customers,
ol$ customers, customers who come in all the time, all of them. 5epair people, $elivery people,
people who are lost an$ nee$ $irections, everyone. 5emember, even if the person who comes is
not an$ never will be a customer they still will relay their experiences with your company, goo$
or ba$, to everyone they talk to.
/f there is going to be a wait, tell the customer about it. #xplain why, offer coffee, tea, etc. then
every 67 to 68 minutes give the customer an up$ate. 3ave gift car$s from a local store, restaurant
or espresso stan$ available for customers who have to wait too long. *lways tell the truth about
how long the wait will be. .aying it will be %ust a few more minutes& when you know it will
half an hour only makes things worse!
Things you should never do:
/f the customer is early for their appointment "#9#5 communicate in any way that this
is ba$ or creates a problem. The point is that the person arrive$! That's great! 2o give the
customer a hug! :on't berate them for the %crime& of being early. /n fact you shoul$ not
use the wor$ %early&. /f the customer comes early the first thing to $o is to tell them how
happy you are to see them. (ou can say something like, %1ust have a seat an$ / will go (or
call) an$ see if they are rea$y for you.& !r something positive, ust work it out so that
what you are saying is not %(ou're early an$ you're 5)/"/"2 my sche$ule!!!&
;arry on a personal conversation with another employee, or phone call, while servicing a
customer. This is particularly important when the customer first comes in. /f you are at
the front $esk with another co<worker an$ a customer walks in you nee$ to en$ any
conversations you are having an$ look up at the customer with a smile 0#=!5# they
reach the counter. !ther wise the customer will get the impression that they are
$istracting you from your more %important& $uties.
;arry on *"( negative type of conversation *0!)T *"(T3/"2 if there is a customer
with earshot. This inclu$es conversations about: other staff, other customers, other
;onvey the i$ea, feeling or attitu$e of being %way too busy&, %overworke$& frantic or
*"(T3/"2 #+.# which woul$ tell the customer that their being there is a problem.
2enerally customers $on't want to hear about your problems at work or in your personal
life. 1ust be positive, frien$ly, cheerful an$ happy to help them "! -*TT#5 3!W
.W*->#: (!) *5#.
;lick here to learn about our WelcomeTeam Training program.
>oste$ in answering the phone, communication, customer service, customer service
management, ;ustomer service tips an$ strategies, customers, effective communication, greeting
customers, marketing, perception of value ? Tags: customer service, loyal customers, loyal
employees, ;ustomer service tips an$ strategies, customers, perception of value, perception,
customer perception, choosing customer service staff, frien$liness, customer service staff,
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@ =irst /mpressions an$ *nswering the >hone
=irst /mpressions, >ersonaliAe$ .ervice an$ ;ustomer +oyalty B
6 Customer First mpressions
/t's amaAing how some organiAations are goo$ with first impressions an$ others are not. 0y first
impressions / mean the first point of contact a customer has with an organiAation.
The reality is that customers have choices an$ organiAations that %get it& pay attention to the
$etails that matter to customers. #very organiAation is $ifferent as far as their first impression
moment, but all organiAations have that first opportunity to make their customer feel like they
have come to the right place an$ will get their nee$s met.
First Impression Opportunities
1. Website
-ost successful organiAations have a well thought out an$ $esigne$ website. To$ay's customers
use the internet to fin$ out information about an organiAation. What pro$ucts an$ services they
have to offer, hours of operation, locations, customer testimonies, service guarantees an$ to get a
general feel for the business. /t is critical to take a goo$ look at your website an$ try to wear a
customer's hat when $oing so. Things to think about:
Is the look of the website current or outdated?
Is the content accurate, clear and error proof?
How easy is it to fnd the needed information? The last thing you want to do
is frustrate a customer by making it difcult to navigate the site.
re there pictures or video that tell a story?
2. Telephone
=or some organiAations, a customer calling in to ask ,uestions or make an appointment may be
the first point of contact. Things to think about:
How is the phone answered?
!oes a "live# person answer the phone?
$hat are the wait and hold times?
$hat does the hold background music%information sound like?
Is the person answering the phone friendly, knowledgeable and able to
answer &uestions?
How many times does a customer need to be transferred before getting
information or a &uestion answered?
How &uickly are calls returned?
3. Business Lobby
When someone comes to your business, some first impressions may be the cleanliness of the
parking lot, entryway an$ lobby. Things to think about:
Is the parking lot free from debris or blowing trash?
Is the entryway free from debris or blown leaves, etc?
Is the glass on the doors and windows clean?
$hat does the building smell like? I personally have sensitivity to smell and I
make impressions based on smells, either good or bad.
$hat does the furniture and carpet look like in the waiting room? Is it clean
and fresh or stained and worn?
Is the public restroom clean and fully stocked?
4. Receptionist
The receptionist is often the first representation of a business. 3ow well they are traine$ or
untraine$ tells a lot about a business. Things to think about:
Is the receptionist friendly?
re they knowledgeable about the organi'ation? good receptionist knows
everything about an organi'ation from how the business started to where the
business is going.
(an the receptionist answer &uestions?
Is the receptionist e&uipped to do service recovery if a customer is not
!oes the receptionist do "personal# things while on duty, for e)ample do they
eat at their desk, read or polish their nails? These may seem minor but send
a message and impression of how professional the organi'ation is.
5. Business Culture
When someone visits your business, are the workers happy an$ helpful4 /f employees are not
engaging they can leave a negative impression on customers.
!o employees vent or voice frustrations in front of customers?
!o they ignore customers thinking that it is "not their *ob# or do they stop
what they are doing to help the customer?
. !"r#etin$ !"teri"ls
/ know marketing materials can be expensive but they really $o tell a lot about an organiAation.
These materials shoul$ always be professionally $one. They shoul$ represent the organiAation
by having clean, error free information that is clear an$ informative. The goal woul$ be for these
materials to answer the ,uestions that someone might have. When creating marketing materials,
think about answering ,uestions that relate to who, what, where, when an$ how.
=inally, the ol$ saying you only have one shot at making a goo$ first impression is true!
;ustomers are ,uirky at best an$ business owners nee$ to make sure their customer's first
impressions are positive an$ inviting for a customer. )sing customer comment car$s to gain
customer perspective an$ training employees with service stan$ar$s that are part of a structure$
performance management process can help prepare an organiAation for a positive customer
%o& to Impress Clients &ith " 'irtu"l (ssist"nt
+,th -ul, ./++ 0 (omment 0 1ichard $einberg 0 2osted In3 4eatured567, 6utsourcing
The first impression you make can be essential to how you $evelop a relationship. :uring that
ever<important minute or two that you have to secure a potential customer you must be at your
best. When you are starting out your own venture, making this first impression can be har$. (ou
are over worke$, in a hurry an$ have what seems like a thousan$ things going on all at once. This
is where a virtual assistant comes into the picture.
* virtual assistant can take your calls, sche$ule your meetings, create presentations or even post
emails on your behalf. /t is like having an office assistant without having to have an office.
Think of how impresse$ potential clients will be when a pleasant voice answers their call instea$
of a voicemail box C an$ rather than miss calls, an$ potential $eals, they will be picke$ up by
your ever present assistant. Think of the extra time you will have when you can simply open a
file an$ fin$ your sche$ule for the $ay, instea$ of $igging through your printe$ emails an$ notes.
5ealiAe the potential you will have to sell your pro$uct or service when you are not worrying
about office tasks.
9irtual assistants are skille$ office personnel who telecommute instea$ of leaving their homes to
work in a physical office. *ll work is $one through the internet, which cuts $own on costs for
both parties. The business owner is not strappe$ with the bur$en of space costs, an$ a virtual
assistant can work from their home, avoi$ing traveling costs.
-any large corporations alrea$y utiliAe virtual assistants in their corporations because of the cost
saving measures for them an$ the increase$ pro$uctivity of their workers. .tu$ies have shown
over an$ over that telecommuters actually perform better than those in an office space.
There is no reason that you shoul$ risk making a ba$ first impression. )sing a virtual assistant to
enhance your business will provi$e you with an a$$itional layer of professionalism an$ re$uce
the risk of missing an important call or meeting.
Two !ays "our #rgani$ation Can Ensure t %akes Great First mpression !hen
Customers Call
#very experience your customers have with your organiAation
begins with a first impression. The first impression is the first %touch point& that your
organiAation has $uring a customer interaction an$ it either leaves them feeling excite$ to work
with your company or feeling in$ifferent an$ unsure about possibility of continuing a
relationship with your firm.
/n many situations the first impression takes place $uring a phone call. )nfortunately many
organiAations $o not take a$vantage of this opportunity to create a powerful first impression.
There are two main reasons that this happens.
The first reason a goo$ first impression is often misse$ on a phone call is the lack of proper
customer service proce$ures that place an emphasis on call scripting an$ consistency. While
most companies take the time to show their team members how to operate their phone systems,
very few instruct them how to answer the phone properly, an$ even fewer have establishe$
telephone scripts to instruct employees exactly how to answer the phone an$ respon$ the
customer's call.
;onsistency is paramount when it comes to provi$ing exceptional telephone customer service.
(ou cannot affor$ to greet current an$ future customers $ifferently each time they call. (our
organiAation has a bran$ image an$ part of that image is how the customer is greete$ when they
call. /f the customer is greete$ $ifferently (sometimes goo$, sometimes ba$) every time they call,
your bran$ will ,uickly lose value in the customer's min$ an$ they will won$er what version of
your organiAation they will receive each time they call.
1ust as ;oca ;ola ensures that every can of ;oke tastes the exact same, so shoul$ your
organiAation when it comes to how your customers are greete$ on the phone by your employees.
The secon$ reason many organiAations miss the opportunity to create an excellent first
impression is that it has the wrong people answering the phones. +et's face itD not everyone is
cut out to provi$e great customer service, an$ not everyone will enoy answering the phones.
Why is this4 "ot everyone loves people! While an employee can %fake it& for a while, if they are
not truly a %people person& your current an$ future customers will eventually notice an$ their
experience with your organiAation will suffer as a result.
3iring the right people to answer the phones is critical to making a goo$ first impression on the
telephone. This cannot be un$erstate$. +ike it or not, the right employee team member is
essential to a strong first impression an$ creating a customer experience that will leave your
customers coming back time an$ time again.
What can you $o to make a goo$ first impression when a current or future customer calls your
=irst C ;reate a telephone customer service calling script that will instruct your team members
not only what to say, but how to say it, an$ when. When left to their own $evices some
employees will provi$e exceptional customer service with little instruction, while some will fall
far short of expectations. ;reating an incoming call script will make certain that all employees
are on the same page when it comes to answering the phone an$ will ensure that your customers
get a goo$ impression of your organiAation every time they call.
The >hone ;oach has extensive experience creating call scripts that will leave your customers
saying %Wow!& ;lick here for more information.
.econ$ly C 3ire the right team members that will take pri$e in creating a great first impression
over the telephone. *gain, the importance of this cannot be un$erstate$. The wrong team
member answering the phones can create a poor first impression with a poor tone of voice an$ a
lack of enthusiasm for their ob, even with the most carefully crafte$ phone script.
The >hone ;oach has helpe$ numerous organiAations hire the right team members to answer the
phone an$ create great first impressions. ;lick here for more information.
;reating a positive first impression is too important to be left to chance. ;ontact The >hone
;oach to$ay for more information on how you can ensure that your customers are left saying
%Wow!& after they call your organiAation
mpress Clients with the &est 'eception and
Con(erence 'oom Furniture
>oste$ by Sherwin on :ecember E, F767 G H ;omments
;ompanies that want to get more customers or clients to avail of their pro$ucts or
services employ a number of strategies to $o so but many of the strategies involve$ makes use
of a simple principle I that of enhancing the company an$ bran$ image.
!ne of the many ways you can make a company look goo$ is by $ressing up your office
professionally with the right interior design an$ the appropriate furnishings. While this shoul$
apply to the entire company's work spaces, there are two areas that business owners will nee$
to put extra attention on: the reception area an$ office boar$room or conference room.
The reception area is the part of the office that outsi$ers get a glimpse of. 9isitors, clients,
potential clients, partners, even applicants, walk through the reception each an$ every $ay.
3ence, it is important to have the perfect reception furniture for it. * goo$ chair or sofa where
visitors can sit an$ wait is always a goo$ element of this part of the office. *long with a suitable
reception counter or $esk for the receptionist, the reception area is capable of giving that goo$
first impression to anyone who walks into the office's front $oors.
*nother part of the office that is more fre,uently seen by outsi$ers is the conference room. This
room is a place where meetings with people not necessarily $irectly connecte$ with the company
are hel$. -eetings with potential clients an$ partners are hel$ in the conference room. 3ence,
since many $eals an$ business relationships are forge$ within this room, it is of utmost
importance that it also gives its users that con$ucive, professional atmosphere. (ou can
accomplish this by e,uipping it with the suitable conference an$ boar$room tables.
There are many $ifferent siAes an$ types of conference or boar$room tables but some of the most
popular ones are ma$e of woo$ an$ glass an$ the ,uestion on which one to choose will $epen$
on how it will work with the prevailing theme or $esign of the office's interior. When it comes to
office interior $esign, it is always best to consult an expert $esigner if you $o not want to screw
things up.
First impressions count!
First impressions count!
Designers make sure that our modern galleries are attractive and interesting, not just a series of dusty showcases
!ational "aritime "useum, #reenwich, $ondonFirst impressions play an important part in how customers feel about
their visit.
The immediate impression on arrival at the National Maritime Museum (NMM) is of a modern museum with a wide
use of audio-visuals and dramatic sets for the display of our historic artefacts. 't's a lot more interesting than
e!pected' said a leisure-and-tourism student recently" which reflects our determination to provide a uni#ue"
inspirational and high #uality e!perience.
$espite popular 'bloc%buster' e!hibitions and tourism awards" many people still thin% museums are 'boring' places
with rows of 'posh' ob&ects behind glass cases.
The perception that museums are not 'for them( and offer 'nothing to do( can be a bigger barrier to people visiting"
than bad transport lin%s or the cost of a tic%et.
)!cellent customer service is about creating a good impression* meeting the needs and e!ceeding the e!pectations
of visitors" and ma%ing them feel welcome" e!cited and valued.
)!cellent customer service is wasted if people don't visit in the first place. +ood mar%eting is also good customer
service. t can ma%e our 'products' attractive and welcoming to different types of visitor.