There is an old expression says, “You never have a second chance to make a first impression.” It seems people are giving a lot of weight to that first impression, and for good reason. It sets the tone for whatever the interaction is that follows. It’s a very important moment.
And then there is the last impression. This one is just as important, if not even more so. This is what leaves a lasting impression. And, not too dissimilar to the old adage of first impressions, you may not ever have another chance to make a last impression.
If we make sure the customer’s last experience during the service encounter is a positive one – an above average experience, even an amazing experience – then the customer will self-reinforce that positive emotion on your behalf for a long time after the actual experience. Maybe that positive reinforcement will express itself during the ride home when the customer thinks back about how nice it was to do business with someone who smiled, could answer questions, was helpful, respectful and more. In other words, the last impression lasts.
Maybe the last impression came as a result of a simple “Good bye” or “Have a nice day.” Or perhaps it was someone who stepped up and demonstrated expertise or went above and beyond, creating a confidence that the customer didn’t have before the interaction began. Or maybe it was an online transaction, and moments after the customer hit the “Confirm Purchase” button, that customer received a confirmation and thank you email, letting the customer know that the order went through. Online, offline, in person and over the phone, there are many ways to create that last impression.
So, what do you do or say to create a strong last impression? First, don’t leave this to chance. Think about how you end a conversation with your customer. Not that it should be scripted out, but you should know what needs to be said and how. Regardless of what you say, it should always have a feeling of appreciation.
Between the first impression and the last impression, there are many interactions that may take place. I’m not minimizing the importance of those. They must be managed as well. But at the end, the last impression should be the final impression that creates a lasting impression that will make a customer think back and say, “I want to do business with them again.”
NOTE: This article is based on one of the tools from Shep Hyken’s upcoming book Amaze Every Customer Every Time: 52 Tools for Delivering the Most Amazing Customer Service on the Planet, which appears in stores everywhere in September 2013. Preorder the book and get valuable extras at www.AmazeEveryCustomer.com.
Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, professional speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information contact (314)692-2200 or www.hyken.com. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs go to http://www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken
(Copyright ©MMXII, Shep Hyken)