21 Ways to Not Make a Good First Impression with Customers | Employee smoking

21 Ways to Not Make a Good First Impression with Customers

21 Ways to Not Make a Good First Impression with Customers | Employee smoking

Research on first impressions confirms two very fundamental facts: first impressions happen rapidly and subconsciously.

The old adage is true: you never get a chance to make a first impression. Because once that impression is made, our tendency towards confirmation bias means we are looking for evidence to support that impression and ignoring evidence that contradicts it. In other words, first impressions are hard to overcome.

If the first impression is a positive one, that can work for us and our organizations. If the first impression is a negative one, then we start the relationship with a negative balance in our brand deposits account, so to speak.

In thinking about first impressions, I pondered the many ways organizations had made poor first impressions on me, and as a thought experiment, I set a timer for five minutes and tried to list as many ways as I could remember. 

How Not to Make a Good First Impression on Customers

Here are some of the ways organizations have not made a positive first impression on me as a customer. I shudder to think as I start the timer that there will be sins on this list that my businesses or employees have committed as well.

  1. Not being acknowledged when I entered the store
  2. Not answering the phone
  3. Not having a clean parking lot
  4. Having a disorganized store front
  5. Not having a clean store
  6. Having a dirty uniform or appearance
  7. Employees loitering in the parking lot
  8. Employees smoking in the parking lot
  9. Employees talking on cell phones in front of the store
  10. Employees talking with each other and not greeting me
  11. Having misspelled signage
  12. Having a long checkout line
  13. Having a website that is not working or slow
  14. Having a poorly designed website
  15. Having a website that is not mobile responsive
  16. Greeting me with the phone tree from hell
  17. Not responding on social
  18. Responding inappropriately on social
  19. Spamming me via email
  20. Spamming me via LinkedIn
  21. Spamming me via telemarketing

So, there we go: 5 minutes and 21 ways that companies have not made a good first impression on me as a customer!

I’m sure I’ve missed quite a number. What are some ways organizations have made bad first impressions on you?


By Adam Toporek. Adam Toporek is an internationally recognized customer service expert, keynote speaker, and workshop leader. He is the author of Be Your Customer's Hero: Real-World Tips & Techniques for the Service Front Lines (2015), as well as the founder of the popular Customers That Stick® blog and co-host of the Crack the Customer Code podcast.

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