Running a customer-facing business, whether you are an office that welcomes clients into the workspace or providing a service where customers come onto the premises to wait, places greater importance on getting first impressions right. Anyone that walks into your place of business and sees a tired paint job, poorly maintained carpets and disheveled staff, aren’t likely to want to stick around or will have an opinion before they have seen what you can do.
While you don’t need to have a full annual overhaul, as this can get expensive. You do need to keep spaces maintained and tidy and make adjustments where necessary to freshen the place up and ensure staff want to give their best. Here are some suggestions you shouldn’t overlook when looking to improve the first impressions of your business.
On the Phone
Sometimes, first impressions aren’t visual but auditory. A customer might phone up to check availability or book an appointment, they might have some questions they would like answered before they make the journey to your business. If your customer calls and they end up talking to a less-than-enthusiastic staff member who sounds like they would rather be anywhere than at work, this will reflect negatively and potentially put them off. Staff should be smiling when they pick up the phone, not only can you hear a smile in someone’s voice but simply putting on the appearance of being happy can improve your mood and help you serve your customer better.
In the Office
If customers are going to walk into your office you need to ensure that your workspace is tidy and presentable but also safe. Flooring that has been left unmaintained and is lifting or cracking can look unsightly but also creates a trip hazard that can lead to injury. Upgrading and maintaining commercial flooring doesn’t have to be expensive, you can invest in quality carpet tiles that can be easily and cost-effectively replaced tile by tile, rather than having to pull up the entire floor. Alternatively, hard-top flooring can look very professional but may require further upkeep and protection from equipment being moved around.
The paintwork of your business environment will go unnoticed if it looks professional but the moment it starts to look flakey, tired or out-of-date, it can reflect poorly on your customer first impressions. Lighter colours such as white and cream can make rooms look bigger and reflect more natural light but tend to look tired or dirty much faster than neutral colours such as greys and soft earth tones.
Your Staff Effort
While appearances don’t have to be strictly kept to a three-piece suit and professional dress, staff should care about their appearance when they are a part of a customer-facing business. Ironed shirts, smart footwear and modesty are important but it’s also necessary not to stifle your staff’s individuality and make them feel uncomfortable in a job they spend a large amount of their life in. If uniforms and suits aren’t standard and staff can dress in their own clothes, then they should at least be tidy and presentable and be ready to eagerly greet their customers and clients. Tattoos, hair colouring and piercings are fortunately becoming more acceptable in the professional world, which can help staff feel they are still allowed to be and represent themselves while being a key part of your business.
Most businesses will produce some sort of marketing material at some point, whether it’s fliers, posters, sending out emails, renting a billboard or so on. Your marketing material should meet your brand requirements but it’s also important that it is professionally presented and the message you are trying to get across is clear. Overloading marketing material with written content trying to squeeze in every single one of your business offerings will only work against you. If you sell a selection of products or provide a number of services, find one or two and make these your focus then you can always change the focus of your marketing campaign in the next quarter.
If you are creating your own marketing material but aren’t hugely creative, find a service such as Canva.com that can provide professional-looking templates for you to build upon and save time and effort.
Meeting a new person, almost always one of the first things mentioned will be ‘what is your name?’ but when it comes to agreeing to services or making a sale, this can often be forgotten and become the last priority. Always open your conversations with an introduction, “Hi, lovely to meet you, I’m X, can I take your name?” Establishing someone’s name makes it easier to build up your relationship and is a first impression that shows you care and want to provide your customer with a service that is personal to them.
In the fast-paced digital world where you can often find information with a few taps of a mobile screen. Many people don’t have the time or patience available to give a business more than a single try when they can quite as easily find another one to handle their query. Your first impressions are important and shouldn’t be overlooked unless you are willing to let your sales drop. Why not take a walk-through your business today with an open mind and consider areas that could use some attention and investment to get that extra wow factor.