Mastering First and Last Impressions
First impressions are created in seconds. How long does it take for you to decide who you will sit next to on public transport, or which stranger to talk to at a conference? Before any conversation begins, we have already formed an impression based solely on appearance.
A practice should always be cognisant of the image that it portrays to existing and potential clients. From the first contact by phone or the first greeting from a receptionist, the practice is already delivering a message. Clients will initially judge the team based on their appearance, and the greeting they receive. This means that uniform, name badge, personal presentation and language are all important.
Image is not just about the people but also the practice itself. Image is more than just the colour of your practice walls, or the pictures you have hanging in your reception and consulting rooms. It includes:
· Practice décor and visual appearance, both inside and outside
· Printed materials such as brochures, letterhead, magnets and business cards
· Website and online graphics
· Uniforms and name badges
· Communication skills and professionalism of the team
· Overall appearance/cleanliness and hygiene
The image presented by your practice may affect your ability to strengthen client loyalty and to attract new clients. Therefore, it is necessary that you continually reassess your image, and where necessary, take steps to enhance it.
But what about the power of last impressions? The last 10 minutes of the interaction with you is what your clients will remember. The last impression needs to 'leave a good taste in their mouth'
How do your clients feel about the aftertaste that you leave them with?
· Sweet - “Oh, what a lovely helpful team of people.” "I wouldn't go anywhere else." This client will tell their friends how great you are!
· Sour - “Oh my goodness, she was completely out of her depth, and a smile wouldn’t have hurt!" This client is unlikely to return.
· Bitter – “Look how much money I spent....and for what, I don’t even understand why my bill was so high." This client is going to go elsewhere and tell anyone who is interested, why.
Basic manners should not be underestimated - making sure we thank clients for payment for example. Clarifying that they have understood the products or services they have been provided with and the associated costs have been properly explained. Farewell statements with appropriate non-verbal’s (e.g. smiling, a wave) are intrinsic to leaving a positive, lasting impression with a client. They also leave a positive memory in the client’s sub-conscious. Many clients will be unaware they have stored this memory away in their ‘mental filing cabinet’. A positive, professional lasting impression ensures the next time that client needs veterinary advice, they will think of you.
We need to find ways to leave clients feeling valued, feeling that we care for them and are grateful for their business. You only get one chance to make a great impression - Make it count!
Want to find out more about excellence in customer service? www.provetccg.com.au/csroadshow or www.provetccg.com.au/CSI