What do you think of when you think customer first impressions? The appeal of a storefront or the street on which the store is located? The difference between the impression made by the storefront vs. what happens when the customer first walks inside? The general appeal of the brand?
We have arrived at the point in which your company’s digital interface with customers and potential customers typically occurs first. That’s right: the first impression happens online, either by way of social media, review sites such as Yelp, or your company website.
The Harvard Study of Communications said that it only takes seven seconds for you to make a first impression on another human being, only seven seconds…. In fact, one of the parts of this study actually says that… all together, only 45% of a first impression has anything to do with the words coming out of your mouth. That leaves 55% of a first impression to visual.Amanda Johns Vaden
Customers and potential customers use their smartphones, tablets, and laptops to find a product or service, use an app, get directions, read customer reviews, check pricing, and ask friends their experiences.
Making first impressions amazing for a customer may mean rethinking your digital strategy and investment, but you only get one chance to make that amazing first impression.
First impressions that fail to amaze
If we focus on the customer’s digital introduction to your enterprise, we can look at why some companies fail to make first impressions amazing for a customer.
- Online, wait times make poor first impressions—period. The Harvard Business Review (HBR) published an article, What a Great Digital Customer Experience Actually Looks Like, by Craig Borowski, author and market researcher at Software Advice (a Gartner company). Borowski notes that:
“Online, consumers are far less patient. After all, clicking a mouse is much easier than driving across town to speak to a manager. A study found that a ten-second wait for a page to load can make 50% of consumers give up and leave. Researchers at Microsoft even found that a website begins losing traffic to competitors when it takes 250 milliseconds longer to load. It seems that when people have a less-than-favorable online experience, they fault the company immediately.”
- Coming in second is a website experience that makes it difficult for customers to find what they are looking for; for example, locating a live contact person in your company. You know the type of experience: scrolling and clicking on page after page to find any live contact information until a phone number appears in a tiny font in a corner of the screen. Or perhaps your mobile-friendly website isn’t all that mobile-friendly. Sydney Bee writes in CMS that: “In today’s digital-first world, consumers demand personalized service in the palm of their hands.”
- Failure to onboard your new customer. Sydney Bee warns that small and mid-size business customers “do not have the time or expertise to become experts in their providers’ product and service offerings.” The same may be said for any customer who hops online to do product or service research and save time. Failing to offer “useful and timely” communications with customers who show interest will drive customers to competitors who do.
What’s proven to make first impressions amazing for a customer
Reach your customers with your message.
Reviews by existing customers are subjective and often vary widely. That means it is best to make sure that your potential customers’ first encounter with your enterprise is a message you crafted. And that process is not always straightforward.
In HBR’s The High Price of Low-Cost CPMs, Laura O’Shaughnessy, CEO of SocialCode, writes: “Our research suggests that up to half of paid media impressions fail to reach a marketer’s target audience.” That is a staggering ROI loss which O’Shaughnessy lays squarely at the feet of low-cost (and low quality) digital outreach. She advises that executives focus on “real impressions and business outcomes, not poor quality disguised as low cost”:
We see an overwhelming case for investing more in known, verified audiences with logged-in users.… [W]hen users log in to Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest on their computer, tablet, or smartphone, the networks recognize that they are the same person on each device. By contrast, if you’re using cookies to reach prospects, you as a brand don’t necessarily know that the 36-year-old man you identify on a smartphone is the same person who logged on earlier that day on an iPad and MacBook Air.
Why be concerned about this data? According to O’Shaughnessy, only when you can accurately quantify and identify the numbers and types of people interested in your product or service, can you accurately measure the appeal of your brand and marketing efforts, make changes that are effective, and make first impressions amazing for a customer.
Create customer-friendly online experiences for a great first impression
In Applying Daily Life Moments to the B2B Customer Service World, Matthew Brown advises:
“putting the customer first by making their experience simpler and more straightforward.” Here are a few ways to accomplish that:
- Create page tabs that are customer-centric.
- Guide customers towards likely options with a simple intake form.
- Make it easy for customers to find live support.
- Create easy-to-find filters.
- Ask a focus group of new customers what works and what doesn’t in navigating your site and your social media messaging.
- Host live chats to discuss your products or services or to offer educational tips.
- Blog about topics related to your products or services.
Brown adds, “Sprinkling in relevant imagery also helps to keep the experience appealing and engaging.”
Borowski offers this cautionary note: Be sure that the customer journey is consistent. Following brick-and-mortar experiences with a request that customers go online—or vice versa—does not necessarily translate into a positive first impression. Here is an example: one retailer follows online sales with an offer of coupons that can only be used in stores. Why not make those coupons available wherever the customer prefers to shop, especially if the customer showed a clear preference for purchasing online?
Ask customers for their response
Borowski suggests that: “Companies have to be able to measure how customers feel about a product or service experience, in order to find opportunities for improvement.” Over time, the best way for enterprises to up their game in first impressions is to “actively measure how well they meet online expectations by asking online customers directly.” If you want to make first impressions amazing for a customer, ask your customers for the formula that works.
Review your customer workflows to improve first impressions
First impressions are created by your employees and your workflows, whether the customer interface is digital, live, or a hybrid of the two. The good news is that there are ways in which you can support the efforts of your employees to improve workflows and amaze both customers and potential customers.
According to Borowski, since a customer’s first impression is likely to be digital, an enterprise’s IT investment makes all the difference:
Companies shouldn’t delay investing in dedicated software systems that can streamline and automate customer-facing processes—and reduce errors and inconsistencies.” He adds, “When a company’s CRM or service software doesn’t track all interactions and tie them together across all channels (email, phone, social media, live chat etc.) then the customer will receive a fragmented digital customer experience.
One key to amaze your customers with great first impressions, then, it is to identify software that creates a seamless, user-friendly, error-free, consistent set of workflows and support for your customer-interface.
Clara Shih, CEO and founder of Hearsay, writes in Customer Relationship Automation Is the New CRM:
As interactions between reps and customers become more digital – whether it’s an exchange via Facebook, email, or text or a website visit — data analytics is beginning to demystify and delineate what successful sales reps are doing that others aren’t, what’s effective, and how to get others in the sales organization behaving in these same ways.
That’s right: your enterprise can gather data that point the way for marketing and sales staff when it comes to onboarding, reducing assumptions and outright guesswork.
Shih pointedly asks, “What if enterprise workflows were as smart and easy to use as Siri? What if sales reps benefited from suggested next actions, the way that drivers and shoppers do?” That question alone is a game-changer for exponentially improving onboarding.
Are you ready to review your IT support to ensure that it provides the best practices support for making first impressions amazing for a customer?
Tallyfy stands ready to partner with your company to review and design automated workflows that act as checklists for customer interfaces that will amaze your customers every time.