The Importance of Making a Good Latest Impression

thumbs_upAs a society, we are very focused on first impressions:  clothes, good looks, jewelry, etc.  It’s not much different in the business world.  First impressions in business are obviously important because without a good one, you may not have a chance to make a second impression and those good impressions are needed to make a sale.  However, the value of that first impression only lasts so long and is eventually replaced by the combined value of all impressions. In fact, the benefit from the good first impression usually lessens over time and customers start determining your value based as much, if not more, on your latest impressions.  That’s why companies must focus as much attention on ensuring a positive latest impression as they do on creating a great first one. All of your company touch points – customer service, account managers, internal sales, receptionists, invoices, newsletters, participation in social networks, etc. reflect your company and the value you provide and any one of them can be an asset or a liability. I have worked with software companies that had great products and were wonderful courters during the sales process only to be ultimately undone by very poor customer support and follow-up services.  For example, how often have you met a senior executive during the sales process telling you how important your business is but once the sale is closed, you never hear from that person again? The following are ways to help ensure your latest impression is as good as it should be:

  • Have a clear understanding of what your brand promise is with respect to the customer experience.  Even if you aren’t trying to be Nordstroms, there is some minimum expectation from your customer in terms of follow-up, support, etc.
  • Ensure that you aren’t so focused on getting the sale that you sacrifice the post-sale experience.  For example, in b-to-b situations, salespeople are sometimes incented only to close the sale and there isn’t focus on creating long-term customers.  This can create situations in which the salespeople make promises that the implementation and support teams can’t keep.
  • Review all of your touch points and decide if any are a liability.  Don’t forget to review each and every touch point and that includes the person who answers your phone and welcomes your clients, invoices, security guards, website, etc.  This is more difficult than it might appear because touch points usually span several functional areas.
  • Implement metrics that help you measure your success at providing a great latest impression and review them on a consistent basis.
  • Continually remind all key parties of the importance of that latest impression.

What other ways can we help ensure that we are providing a great latest impression?

This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 14th, 2009 at 7:51 am and is filed under Online Strategy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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