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.
- Not being acknowledged when I entered the store
- Not answering the phone
- Not having a clean parking lot
- Having a disorganized store front
- Not having a clean store
- Having a dirty uniform or appearance
- Employees loitering in the parking lot
- Employees smoking in the parking lot
- Employees talking on cell phones in front of the store
- Employees talking with each other and not greeting me
- Having misspelled signage
- Having a long checkout line
- Having a website that is not working or slow
- Having a poorly designed website
- Having a website that is not mobile responsive
- Greeting me with the phone tree from hell
- Not responding on social
- Responding inappropriately on social
- Spamming me via email
- Spamming me via LinkedIn
- 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?