Posted by: Jo Duxbury | 1 July 2009

First impressions

Your website may create a first impression of your company, but the first interaction a potential customer has with an actual person is just as important.

I recently purchased home gym equipment from a leading brand (no more naming and shaming… you’ll have to work it out 🙂 ), stocked by a chain store. Instore, the brand’s huge pull-up banners impressed me with their positive messages of healthy living and energy – and promises of comprehensive after-sales support. A little plaque on the machine itself also promises friendly assistance from their customer service helpline.

I had trouble assembling the equipment so called the company for assistance. The lady who answered mumbled a subdued ‘Hello… Jane*’. She didn’t say the company’s name and I didn’t know if I’d called the right place. After repeating her name, the employee realised I was looking for the company’s name. Her listless tone was so at odds with the company’s image that I was quite taken aback.

At the end of the call I asked the employee if she was OK – she sounded so down throughout the conversation. Her response: ‘No… yes… um…’. Which was pretty much how the entire conversation had gone.

A business acquaintance of mine made a huge impression on me a few years ago. He’s extremely busy, but when I called him he answered with ‘Jo! How lovely to hear from you!’ His enthusiasm and genuine interest in talking to me was affirming and memorable.

The experience with the home gym company reminded me that in my own business I need to:

  • Make sure all calls are answered with the company name as well as the staff member’s name (e.g. ‘Freelancentral, Jo speaking’).
  • All calls are answered with enthusiasm (our most important brand value)
  • We sound delighted to hear from callers (who are usually our clients).
  • We are well-informed about our services and can answer queries intelligently and efficiently.

One side-effect of answering a call with enthusiasm is that it really takes the wind out of the sails of a grumpy caller. Being greeted in an energetic, genuine and positive way automatically puts a caller in a better mood. 🙂

Your brand is encompassed by EVERY touchpoint a customer has with you, your employees and your products. Are the people answering your phones creating the right first impression for your brand?

* Names have been changed to protect the apathetic. 🙂

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