Product manufacturers are always battling for positioning and shelf space at supermarkets, department stores and other retail venues. They’re concerned about where their product is placed in the aisle, how low or high it is off the ground (floor level = bad; eye level = excellent) and how it is displayed (basking in the spotlight of a stand-alone kiosk or indistinguishable among similar, competitive brands).
Simply stated, great visibility can enhance the impression a product makes on us, impact its desirability and drive sales.
In the same vein, every interaction we have with customers can help formulate, reinforce or change their perceptions of us, which can in turn influence their desire to strengthen the business relationship. Everyone is busy these days and getting access to, or an appointment with, an important customer or prospect often depends on the impressions we make on an ongoing basis. We can’t afford to take any such opportunity for granted.
Here are a few pointers for building a favorable impression. They may seem like small things, but they can make a huge difference:
- Be responsive to a customer’s concerns. People appreciate a prompt response when they have an issue or question. Be honest with people and tell them when they can expect a response and from whom. Better yet, try to get back to them sooner than you promised. Great customer service is about exceeding expectations.
- Arrive on time for meetings (or even early). Whether a meeting is scheduled in person or by phone, be on time. It shows you are responsible, diligent and that you care about the relationship. Yes, you may be kept waiting by someone who is not as attentive as you, but abiding by the highest service standards is critical to enhancing your brand and reputation.
- Accept responsibility when a mistake or problem occurs. We’re all human; we all make mistakes. Most people are understanding enough to accept that. It’s how you handle the mistake or problem that can make a difference in the impression you make on a customer or prospect. Do you accept responsibility and take ownership of the problem or simply pass the buck? Accepting responsibility helps solidify relationships; neglecting to do so can jeopardize them.
- Be prepared. Recognize that every opportunity to connect with a customer or prospect, whether it’s a formal meeting or simply returning a phone call, gives you a chance to prepare. Make sure you are ready to handle each encounter in a positive, upbeat manner.
- Strive to enhance the relationship on an ongoing basis. Related to the concept above, every interaction gives you an opportunity to make a favorable, positive impression (or to inadvertently create a negative one). Set a goal that with each encounter you will create an impression that leaves your customer or prospect with reason to want to do more business with you.