It is reckoned that 70% of customer decisions about the purchasing of products or services are made before any direct contact is made either in person, on the phone, or by email with the company the potential customer is looking to purchase from.
Which means by the time they make that first contact with you there’s a good chance they’ve already decided that yours is the product or service they want to purchase and essentially they are seeking confirmation that they made the right choice in selecting your company to buy from.
So when that call, visit, email or direct message comes in you need to ensure that the first impression the potential customer receives is delivered in such a way that it confirms to them in their own mind that yours is definitely the company they want to buy from.
So if I’ve decided yours is the company I want to buy from and I phone you up and you don’t answer your phone or you don’t answer it in the way I was expecting you to answer it then there is a good chance I’ll change my mind and go elsewhere. And if that happens you may never know just how close you were to acquiring a new customer.
Which means all the time and money that you invested in your marketing activity to attract that customer in the first place is wasted, simply because the first impression you gave when it really mattered fell short.
So the fact that you didn’t answer the phone, or you didn’t answer it very well, or you didn’t return a voicemail very quickly, or the greeting that was given when someone arrived at your premises wasn’t very good, or you were slow to acknowledge and respond to the email or direct message that you received has cost you a customer, wasted your marketing investment and potentially cost you other customers as no doubt that person will tell others ‘I was going to buy from company X but the way they handled my initial enquiry was very poor so I didn’t go there and I would recommend that you don’t either’.
So how do you ensure this doesn’t happen to your company?
It’s very simple. Assume every time the phone rings or someone you don’t recognise walks into your premises, or you receive an email or direct message from someone making an enquiry, that the person contacting you is someone who is ready to buy.
If you and all the people in your organisation adopt that attitude it could make a huge difference to the number of new customers that you end up dealing with.
And because customers can be great marketeers on your behalf, telling their connections, contacts, friends etc… how great your company was in providing the product or service that they were after, a new customer is a valuable asset. Word of mouth marketing remains one of, if not the best, form of marketing.
It is well known that it costs seven times as much time and money to attract a new customer as it does to retain an existing one, so you can clearly see how important it is not to mess up when the opportunity of a new customer arises.
So here’s a quick checklist to try and help you ensure you don’t miss an opportunity to create a great first impression and secure a new customer:
- Create a culture within your organisation that when the phone rings it is assumed it is a new customer who is ready to spend money with you.
- Make sure that attitude is not just conveyed to the sales team but everyone in the organisation, and in particular those people who take the initial call.
- Make sure that if someone leaves a voicemail you return it as quickly as you can.
- Ensure that email enquiries are dealt with within a couple of hours of them arriving in the inbox.
- If someone walks in the door of your business make sure they receive some sort of immediate welcoming greeting, and if everyone is fully occupied with other customers at the time you can still make eye contact, smile, and offer a brief verbal greeting.
- Put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer. How would you like to be treated and greeted?
- And finally consider some mystery shopping. It’s a great way of gaining feedback on how your company is dealing with that first contact.
First impressions and the customer experience are fast becoming the most important aspects of both attracting and retaining customers. No matter how great your marketing activity is if potential customers receive a poor customer experience that creates a bad first impression then your business will be wasting opportunities to grow revenues.
First impressions and the customer experience is something that all businesses should continually review and seek to enhance.
If you need help kickstarting an enhancement to your customer experience activity then please get in touch with me, Trevor Lee, on 07785 390717 or email me via firstname.lastname@example.org.