Choose site: UK
12 years in business with over 200 PAs
14 countries, 15 languages and 3000+ clients
Get a quote

The Importance of a Good First Impression


First impressions are everything in business. From the voice that answers the phone to the imagery on your website, people give you roughly 7 seconds to make your statement and impress them. This means that someone could choose between you and a competitor before you even get their details or properly communicate your value proposition. 

So if you have under 10 seconds to communicate to your prospective customers, what are the things you need to keep in mind?

The Vocal

38% of what your customers and clients pay attention to is vocal, or what they hear. Now this doesn’t mean the words you say, it’s how you say it. This is tone, attitude and personality all rolled into one. With the current climate, we are having to turn to alternative methods of communication as face to face meetings are nigh on impossible. With increasing numbers of calls to helplines, the vocal has become so incredibly important. If nearly 40% of what your customers perceive as ‘your brand’ is down to the tone of your call handlers, you need to be sure that the customer experience is personalised and consistently excellence. This ties into employee and team wellbeing; our tone is often a mirror of our mood and our internal state, so happy people are an absolute must. A customer care rep who is feeling supported and inspired and well will answer the phone with positivity and clarity, so it is so important to invest in your team or business support provider to be sure they are representing your brand in the best possible light.

The Verbal

A mere 7% is the actual words you say. Now, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t pay attention to your pitch and your phone conversations, but it should be paired with training on delivery. What do you want your customer service team to say and how do you want it said. It’s better to think of the verbal as the finishing touches. A bit of extra seasoning to further impress your customers on the phone. It’s also a great way to demonstrate your expertise in whatever space you’re in and inspire real confidence.

The Visual

The biggest part of that all-important first impression, at a whopping 55%, is the visual. This is body language, posture, stance, location etc… everything they can see, whether consciously or subconsciously. Incredibly important on video conferences and in meetings, but considering that COVID-19 has forced most conversations away from meeting rooms, it shows how important the verbal and the vocal currently are. You can still make the most of the visual digitally; make sure your video conference background is professional and not full of distracting nick nacks or garish colours that may prompt adverse reactions. Also, if you’re thinking digitally, consider your website. How easy is it to navigate, how simple is it to contact you and how clear is your offering?

Read more: How to communicate effectively whilst working remotely.

How does this apply to your business?

It is clear that a first impression can mean the difference between a sale or your competitor, so give it the right amount of attention. Think about who is picking up your phones; just having someone to answer the call isn’t enough, it needs to be a dedicated team member who puts equal care and attention towards every potential customer. This team represents the entire business and can prompt a positive or negative judgement within 7 seconds! Don’t leave something so important to a temp agency or a busy team that doesn’t have the time or attention to offer proper customer care.

Remember to take into account any outbound sales calls or service appointments. At times like this every contact point is an opportunity to retain an existing customer or attract a new one, so need to be taken as seriously as inbound requests, if not placed slightly higher on the priority list. Striking the perfect balance between assertiveness, confident and empathetic is no mean feat and could make all the difference. If you’re struggling to manage all the customer touchpoints with the right amount of care and dedication, considering using a support service, like SmartPA, which offers a dedicated team to ensure maximum customer care and retention.

Within this seven second deadline, you need to make the most of every bit of time you have. Don’t irritate your customers with long wait times, automated messages or repetitive hold music. The best service you can offer your customers is the quickest, most streamlined way to answer their question or solve their problem.  If you are looking to take advantage of a customer care support service, remember to check that they can transfer calls, take messages or carry out whatever is your preferred next step in the customer journey. By taking full advantage of the 7 second rule, you optimise your chances of making a good first impression and your target audience continuing along their journey.

Customer experience is an artform, think about your favourite brands and suppliers and consider why they are so good. Three things consumers care about ahead of everything else are value for money, quality and customer service, so consider how important that first impression is to you. If you can’t afford not to prioritise it, then use our telephony team and let them make a guaranteed positive first impression on every incoming, and indeed outgoing, call.