15 Seconds to Success: How First Impressions Impact Loyalty

On any given day, your customers might call you for many different reasons.

Maybe they’re scheduling an appointment or enrolling in a program.

Maybe they just want help with one simple question.

But for all the differences that exist between customer calls, here’s one thing they all have in common:

A fresh opportunity to make a first impression.

It’s true! No matter where your customer is in their journey with you – whether they’re loving you, mad at you, or entering the ever-dreaded state of feeling “neutral” about you – every call creates a new impression.

When you’re running an inbound customer care operation, that immediate first impression is a critical part of doing business. So, what happens if your agent is tired, rattled by a previous call, or simply having a bad day? What happens when that negativity leaks into the way they answer calls, respond to questions, or handle complaints?

Here’s what happens: your customer gets a powerful negative impression – not just of that one agent, but of your business. Unfair? Maybe. But you can’t ignore the fact that your customers associate you, your products, services, and entire organization with how they’re treated when they call you.

It’s an impression that gets formed almost instantly. Often referred to as “thin-slicing,” this human tendency to form instant, long-lasting opinions can take hold within the first few seconds. And it doesn’t just impact that one customer’s loyalty It can drive waves of online customer reviews and other reputational damage.

The key to keeping it positive is in making sure everyone on the team takes their “Director of First Impressions” role seriously. To do so, train and watch for these 3 critical traits every call.

A Warm, Respectful Tone

This starts with basic good manners. But it includes so much more than that. Think of how you feel about interacting with someone who says the right words but whose voice telegraphs irritation, confusion, or boredom. You may have wonderful phone agents capable of exuding kindness and an eagerness to help sometimes, when they feel like it. That’s just not good enough. You need agents who treat every customer well. While it all starts with a positive attitude, it only lasts with careful coaching, encouragement, and ongoing training.

Knowledge and Credibility

Let’s face it, even the kindest, most engaging customer care agent in the world can wreck a call if they’re clueless. Double that if they’re clueless but pretend to know what they’re talking about. Making sure your reps know all about your brand, your products, and your services is honestly one of the easiest things to train. It’s up to you to make sure well-meaning employees are armed with up-to-date information.

Powerful, Positive Brand Representation

I’m amazed by how often this aspect of inbound customer care is missed by brands. But when you limit your call center training to kindness, courtesy, and product knowledge only, you’re missing a key ingredient. You’re sending a message to your team – and to the customers they serve – that they’re not really brand representatives. Believe me, whether they’re doing a great job or treating your customers horribly, they’re definitely representing your brand. Be sure they’re trained on your core brand values as well as your current marketing campaigns, and always keep scripts and product training synced-up with the rest of your brand messaging.

If you’d like to learn more about how Skybridge Americas can help you improve your customer experience and boost your ratings, please reach out!  We would love to talk with you.

by Bobby Matthews
Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing
Skybridge Americas
bmatthews@skybridgeamericas.com

 


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