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What’s the Impact of a First Impression

Apr 28, 2021

Swipe Left or Right? Run fast through a dimly lit carpark? Locked eyes with an interesting stranger across a room? First impressions are alive and well and for good reason.

Fight or flight is a mode that is built into us all. We read a situation, person, or energy the moment we first encounter it. Within milliseconds, we analyze what is before us to make primal decisions on what action we should take. Do we cross the street, turn our gaze, interact, swipe left or right? Do we trust? Do we avoid it? Is it even possible not to judge a book by its cover?

As a consumer, you are making buying decisions every day. As you walk into a store, see a product or interact for the first time with a potential service provider, and our clients and customers are doing exactly the same. The challenge is to create congruency for the intended impression, with the actual impression.

Working with businesses for the last 19 years, I seldom find one who has taken the opportunity to review what a client’s first impression is of their business and identify discrepancies and cost. What happens when you ring your office, attend an open home, visit your website?

How is an actual client and customer handled in that first moment? What is the impression they get of you in that first moment, that first interaction? Is it what you intended?

First impressions can leave clients wanting more or desperate to walk away, never to be seen again. The cost of getting a client in the door in the first place is high enough to warrant a review of the leakage and more. But why do so many of us not take the challenge?

Are we afraid of what we will find? Do we not know where to start? Do we make ego assumptions that everything is as it should be? Do we not know what to do if we discover it’s not as it seems?

Creating consistency in business is as much about setting the intention as ensuring everyone is aware of it. An easy way to start is to ensure every staff member has the same perspective on how clients or customers should “feel” when interacting with you. Providing examples, role play, and insights into how to bring this to life can get everyone on the same page and put your business on a path to consistent first impressions.


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