It can be extremely hard to change a negative first impression.
As with most things in life, negatives come easier than positives. That means businesses need to focus on making a good first impression, in order to attract new customers and also to ensure that the impression continues in the same way, to maintain old customers.
A negative first impression is hugely damaging for a business and it can be very difficult to change it once it has been established. On the other hand, a positive first impression tends to flourish, but it is still something quite fragile, which can move back towards the negative end of the spectrum, with a few wrong moves.
So, what does that worrying negative first impression actually look like?
You can tell by someone’s body language whether they’re not impressed with something. Think about times in the past when you’ve visited a shop or you’ve entered a reception area and instantly felt like you simply didn’t like the place. It might have been something small like the colour of the walls that made you feel a little suffocated, or it might have been something large, like an uncooperative and unhelpful receptionist.
It’s likely that at the time, your body language told everyone what you thought. You would have been frowning and not smiling, you would have shown negative and defensive body language, perhaps with your arms crossed over your chest, and you would have been quite clipped in your communication efforts.
When this happens, the memory of it remains quite clear in the mind and it can be enough to force you to avoid working with that company again in the future. In that case, you could say that first impressions are literally everything to a business and its future success.
A negative impression is likely to mean the first encounter with that customer is quite short-lived. They’re not going to want to hang around if they get the sense that they’re simply not happy or impressed with your services. That could mean they immediately go away and tell their friends and family about your business and how they felt, and as a result, anyone who might have been considering contacting you may decide to go elsewhere.
The ironic thing is that a negative first impression can be formed from the smallest of things. For instance, not saying “hello” with a smile may be enough to make you think that the receptionist or person sat at their office desk simply isn’t interested in you or what you have to say. It might be that you’re waiting a little too long on the reception sofas, and the receptionist is so busy seeing other people that they forget to tell you that the person you’re waiting for is a little delayed.
These small things add up to huge problems and can be enough to cause you to lose business.
So, what do negative first impressions actually look like?
- Customers who do not look happy or interested in your business after they have spent a short time in your presence
- A sudden drop in interest, sales, or noticing that customers seem to be going elsewhere
- An increase in complaints
- Perhaps an increase in angry visitors to the reception area, who feel they’re not being managed in the best way
A negative first impression can be extremely dangerous for business and although there are several points on the scale, e.g. a mildly negative impression versus a very bad one, any amount of negativity is something to try and avoid.
Of course, it’s not possible to impress and please everyone whilst you’re sitting at your office chair trying to go about your daily work, but you should at least try your very best and avoid the common pitfalls which most businesses forget to address. In most cases, these are the very basics, such as forgetting manners, or simply forgetting to smile.