Thursday, December 4, 2014

First or Last Impression - Which One is Lasting?

Image courtesy of Unsplash
Which is most important: the first impression or the last impression?

As you think about the customer experience, which impression is most impactful, the first one or the last one? Which one is the lasting impression?

Let's think for a moment about the customer experience lifecycle. If we think at that high level and consider when the customer first becomes aware of your brand/products: Did he hear a good story or a bad story? Which would you prefer he hears at this point?

Consider when the customer walks into your store, goes to your website, or calls you by phone. Was that a pleasant experience? Was she greeted with a warm, friendly smile and "hello?" Was the entrance clean and uncluttered? Was the website intuitive?

Those are all first impressions. What is the first thing that you want your customers to know or to see about your brand? I can guarantee you that it's something positive. If it isn't, then the chance that they'll pursue the purchase or a relationship is slim to none. No. Let's just call it as it is; the chance is none.

Now let's think about the other end of the customer experience lifecycle. Consider when your  customers are canceling their subscriptions or memberships or when they decide not to renew their product licenses. How do you handle that? Do you say "good-bye" with grace? Or do you rake  customers over the coals and force them to pay crazy termination fees - or worse yet, simply don't let them out of their contracts and continue to deduct monthly fees?

Consider when the customer has finished his purchase on your website or is hanging up with your customer service agent. Does the agent thank the customer for his business, or does he simply hang up before the customer does? After the online purchase, does the customer get a confirmation page with a clear message stating that the order has been submitted, or does she get an error page or a redirect to some other page that has nothing to do with the transaction just completed?

Those are all last impressions. How do you want the customer to remember you when it's all said and done? Do you want the customer to do business with you again in the future, should the need arise? Yes, of course.

So, which one leaves a lasting impression?

Honestly, they both do. The first impression sets the tone for what lies ahead; it sets expectations. The last impression is what we're left with; it's probably what we'll remember most about a brand.

BUT...

You won't get one without the other. There won't be a last impression if you don't get the first impression right. You know what you need to do.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. -attributed to both Oscar Wilde and Will Rogers


8 comments:

  1. Hi Annette,
    I think you've touched on an interesting issue. First and last impressions are equally important, I believe. However, the trick is understanding that we are always leaving 'last' impressions (Check out: http://www.adrianswinscoe.com/customer-relationships-and-the-primacy-and-recency-effect/) as it's not just about termination of relationships but also about the end of interactions that's important too.

    Adrian

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    1. Good point, Adrian. Thanks for sharing your post, too.

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  2. I suppose the thing with a first impression is to make sure it isn't the last one at the same time. After that, personally, I think it is the last one that counts.

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    1. Thanks, James. I like that... don't make your first impression your last one, too.

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  3. Annette,

    Have you considered the Peak / End rule (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak%E2%80%93end_rule) in this process?

    Adam

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    1. Thanks, Adam, I have. I've got a post started in my Drafts folder on it... perhaps taking a different twist.

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  4. Great post Annette

    For me first impressions confirm and/or reaffirm a customer's expectations of your service, lasting impressions set the expectations for next time.

    Get them right = virtuous circle
    Get them wrong = vicious circle

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    1. I like that perspective, Jase. Thanks for sharing it. Makes sense to me!

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