You never get a second chance to make a good first impression
It may be a well-known mantra, yet it’s a still fact that can’t be emphasized more. People form opinions about a place or person within the first few seconds of an encounter. Furthermore, this first impression creates a 'triple bias' that inadvertently colors future encounters either positively or negatively.
But does this maxim translate to the work and business environment?
First Impressions in a Business Setting
Business is fraught with risk which means everyone is actively on the lookout for any red flags that may undermine them. That makes first impressions all the more important. The first impression you make will set the tone for a future business relationship with a client or inspire confidence in a prospective employer. It may also determine whether a customer will come back another day or decide to go to the competition. A good experience will even make your customer recommend your services to partners, friends and family so you not only have repeat customers, but also additional ones.
Bad impressions, on the other hand, are always detrimental. Picture yourself interviewing a prospective employee who shows up late and is poorly groomed. No matter how intelligent or talented they turn out to be in the course of the interview, you’ll never quite forget that they didn’t care enough about the job, you and your organization to make a good first impression. And let’s say you hire such a person, you’ll always be on the lookout for tardiness or poor grooming thereafter.
That’s what makes first impressions (especially bad ones) so important; despite the fact that they are made within a few seconds, they linger for a long time. In subsequent encounters, people will always look for behavior that supports the opinions they have already formed while at the same time ignoring those that don’t. That means any bad behavior becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Getting someone to change their mind about you therefore turns into an uphill battle that could have been easily avoided.
Are First Impressions Suitable in a Business?
Don’t judge a book by its cover. It’s a trite phrase that you’ve probably heard about thousands of times. However, if you think about it, that’s exactly what a first impression is – making a split-second judgement about someone the moment you see them. Such snap judgments definitely have faults but does that mean first impressions should be completely avoided?
Unfortunately, that’s not an option. First impressions are an important part of any interaction and we have all been equipped with the tools to garner and process an incredible amount of information at first glance. In fact, you don’t even have to speak for someone to form an opinion about you since most communication is through nonverbal cues. The fact that we are really good at this means that first impressions are more often than not accurate.
Nevertheless, prejudice and bias may still color the impressions we get which is why that first instinctive opinion should always be tempered with a healthy dose of reason to avoid unfair judgments.
Does Automation Solve the Challenges of First Impression?
First impressions are a product of natural human interaction hence they can’t really be entirely in your control. In as much as you might desire to always give your customers the best experience right from the minute they walk in, it may not always be the case. A front desk employee having a rotten day may just take it out on a customer, with disastrous effects.
Creating a great first impression starts right at the very beginning, such as when a customer walks into the building and onto the lobby and front desk. As such, even details like organization and cleanliness of the lobby as well the friendliness and cooperation of staff all add up to form a good or bad experience.
Most modern offices are now automating their processes to make serving their customers much easier and a lot more predictable. Even front desks that are traditionally manned by a receptionist are also adopting this trend. Automating the visitor registration process eliminates the risk of creating a bad first impression on your visitors at the front desk. Greetly visitor registration app is designed specifically for this purpose. It is a self-help check-in kiosk that visitors can use to check themselves in. Once they check in, the host is alerted via a call, text, email or Slack to let them know their visitor has arrived.
Similarly, an iPad receptionist enables you to get right down to business with your customers without having to worry whether they have been received well at the lobby. Not to mention, the virtual receptionist is always available 24/7 so disappointed and dissatisfied customers become less of a concern.
Especially in the business environment, the importance of first impressions can’t be denied. Thus all that matters is how you cope with this particular conundrum. Many businesses are striving to make good first impressions however they can with many choosing to automate the process for greater control. Just don’t get left behind.