Friday, April 11, 2014

You Only Have One Chance to Make a Third Impression

Yesterday was my third visit to a local independent eatery. The space is designed so that without signage or a verbal greeting, it is not clear whether to be seated or order at the counter. I stood at the counter for a moment, looking at the menu.

The woman behind the counter asked, "Is this for here or to go?"

"For here."

"Then you need to sit down at a table."

Now, this was not the charming "Then you need to sit down, Baby," that one might hear in the Deep South.  This was the exasperated "Then you need to sit down, so I can do my job." 

As if it should have been perfectly clear. 

I overheard the server tell a table near me, "I'm sorry for the wait, but I just had three tables come in." (One of those was my table.)

As if that was an inconvenience.

My meal, while adequate, was certainly not exceptional. No one came by to check on me after my food was delivered. My bill never arrived, so I asked if I should wait for one or pay at the register.
I was told to come on up to the register. 

As if it should have been perfectly clear. 

Here are some ways to make a good third impression on your customer:
  1. Welcome your customer into your space.
    Let them know you are glad they chose your business. They have other choices.
  2. Don't assume your customer knows what to do in your space.
    Provide signage or verbal instructions so they don't feel awkward. 
  3. Never, ever complain about customers to your customers.
    This is a complaint about the people sitting in front of you, as well as those within earshot.
I try to shop "local". I will overlook adequate food if I feel welcome and comfortable. But I won't choose "local" over not feeling awkward.

First impressions aren't the only ones that count.

The same goes for all kinds of experiences--online, "brick and mortar", churches, public spaces. What makes or breaks an experience for you?

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