I refer to all customer-facing, non-sales employees, who have an opportunity to talk to your customers, as directors of first impressions. I’m sure this has happened to you more than once:
- You called an organization with a sincere interest to explore doing business with them, but the person who answered the phone was rude, oft-putting and/or, in some cases, downright insulting.
- The first impression you received from this individual dissuaded you from doing business with that company.
Most of us have no idea how our directors of first impressions sound and/or behave.
There are many reasons for this.
First and most importantly is we rarely, if ever, inspect the quality of work done by our directors of first impressions.
- When was the last time you monitored phone calls?
- When was the last time you coached your people to articulate your company’s value propositions?
Most of the CEOs and business owners that I work with admit that they rarely, if ever, have even considered doing any of these easy tasks.
Unfortunately, the failure to do these tasks allows your director of first impressions to make a random impression on your marketplace, by which I simply mean that they are not in alignment with your website, your marketing material, brochures, et cetera. In some cases, they don’t even sound like they work for the same company that attracted a prospect or a customer!
Here’s what you can do about this.
First, record their phone conversations. If your phone system does not facilitate recording calls, utilize a digital recorder and just record your employee. By monitoring what they say, you’ll learn a lot about the impressions that are being made on your marketplace.
Secondly, and this is the most important thing you can do, is write out scripts. That’s right; a written script should be presented to each director of first impressions. This script should be fifteen seconds, maybe twenty seconds, in length.
But, they must reemphasize your company’s core value proposition.
Without a script, your people will fall back on what they believe is in the best interest of your company. On many occasions, I’ve observed that what the director of first impressions believes is the most important thing to say and/or way to behave is not in compliance with management’s wishes.
Make sure you don’t fall victim to the problem of making bad first impressions by assuming that your people are doing the work the way you want them to.
One last tip: Have a friend of yours that also owns a business call your company and ask for assistance and/or service.
Have him/her tell you how the call went. This will let you know whether or not your first impressions are positive ones or negative. As always, inspect that which you expect.