How To Make Good First Impressions With Consumers

A first impression is everything. It can frame a consumer’s entire experience with a company. A bad first impression, and you’ll have to work ten times harder to win back their good opinion. A good first impression? Well, then they are more likely to enjoy their experience and return. 

Retention of consumers is more difficult than ever, with the growing competition across most industries. Ensuring your consumers have a good experience with your company is a sure-fire way of ensuring their return. A good first impression can’t help but boost this good opinion. 

But often, the first point of contact with a consumer for your business is not with higher members of staff, but with receptionists, phone operators or floor staff. Whilst this is not necessarily a bad thing – there is a reason these jobs exist – it can be harder to control consumers’ first impressions when you are not the person delivering it. 

However, there are some things you can do to encourage good first impressions for consumers. This, of course, will depend on the type of business you run. If you are an online corporation, consumer’s first impressions will likely be decided by an experience over the phone. Whereas, a bookstore owner will be dealing with in-person first impressions. 

Similarly, the effect you will attempt to achieve in their first impression will differ. Do you want your consumers to feel reassured, that they are in capable hands? Or do you want a consumer to feel as though they are somewhere exciting, that they’d like to return to? 

Making sure you are certain of the impression you want to create is key. With an endpoint in mind, you can take steps to achieve it. 

But here are some basic points you will want to be wary of when coaching workers to deliver excellent first impressions to consumers. 

Over the Phone 

First impressions over the phone are more prevalent than ever, with the pandemic shutting many in-person businesses worldwide. For those who have found themselves unexpectedly having to connect with consumers over the phone, a company like Virtual HQ can be an excellent way to ensure great first impressions over the phone. 

Image credit: Pxhere

It is often more difficult to make a good first impression over the phone. Usual communication methods such as body language and facial expressions are taken out of the equation. So much of creating a good first impression relies on word choice and tone. Due to this, selecting how over the phone impressions are made should be specific and purposeful.

There are a few things that are key to mention in a first phone call:

  1. A polite greeting, mentioning the company name to reassure the consumer they are in the right place.
  2. The name of the phone operator, to personalise the experience for the caller.
  3. Immediate establishment as a port of help – make sure the operator offers assistance to the caller.
  4. The phone operator should offer thanks to the caller for calling. 
  5. Always remember to ask if there is anything else the caller needs help with. 

By ensuring all these points are met, the consumer should feel like they have had a productive call. 

To make sure they also view the call as pleasant, it is important to make sure your phone operators use the right tone. A friendly tone can help a consumer feel like they’ve had an enjoyable call, but a more pragmatic tone can make a caller feel like they’ve been taken seriously. Consider the feeling you’d like to create in a consumer and adjust accordingly. 


First impressions created in-person may be viewed as easier, due to the greater wealth of tools available to you – body language, words, tone, appearance, facial expressions – but this isn’t a reason not to focus on making them the best they can be.

Employees should deliver a quick response to a consumer entering the store. Within the first five seconds, a worker should greet the consumer. This way, consumers know that they are being treated as important, and that help is there for them if they need it. 

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If workers are engaged with other consumers in the store in the case of a busy day, make sure to greet the new consumer with: ‘I’ll be with you in a minute,’ to make sure they are valued. Leaving one consumer to be with another doesn’t make sense – if an employee has a consumer with them already, they should not leave them immediately. 

Yet, acknowledging the consumer is very important. Let the consumer know they have been noticed, and have help available to them. Though the employee is engaged with another employee, it is key to use a friendly tone to make sure neither the pre-existing nor the new consumer thinks of themselves as a burden. Employees are happy to help!

Much like over the phone impressions, greeting a consumer in person should be delivered with a few key markers. Make sure your employees say “Welcome,” and mention the store name. This creates a brand identity. Then, they should mention their own name to personalise the experience. Consumers want to feel like they are dealing with a real person, not just an appendage of the business. Finally, it is key to ask how the employee can help the consumer. By creating a good impression, consumers should feel they can ask employees to help them with their purchasing, rather than leaving due to not finding a product you do have. 

Words and delivery are not the only tools available to in-person experiences. You should also consider employees’ appearance. Whether you want a more uniform appearance or something casual will depend on the business, you are running, but no matter what, there are some key aspects to consider. Neatness and cleanliness of appearance are a must. Similarly, it is essential to emphasise the importance of eye contact with your employees. Without eye contact, consumers will not feel a connection. Eye contact promotes trust and sharing. 

Store impressions

You also must think about the fact that in-person impressions are not only achieved by the workers. When in-person, a consumer will also be affected by the environment around them. 

Image credit: Pxhere

Make sure your store is delivering a good impression. Some things to look out for are:

  • Cleanliness of the store: This regards shelves, counters and floors. Consumers will want space to walk freely around the store and find what they are looking for easily. 
  • Appearance of the store: Does the store appear a nice place to be? Factors like light levels and temperature control can really affect whether a consumer has a good time shopping in your store. Ensure the decor of the store reflects the branding you are trying to promote, and that it suits your demographic. 
  • Safety of the store: Within the pandemic context, does the store feel like a safe place to be? Ensure there is hand sanitiser available, and, if there is a one-way system, it is easily signposted. If there is a capacity limit, make sure that this is clearly shown. You don’t want people dawdling outside, not sure if they are allowed in. 

With a well thought out store, the first impression delivered by the environment should be under control. 

Ensuring good first impressions in your company

So how can you ensure these necessities are met? 

There are the usual techniques – using rewards and sanctions to encourage new behaviour – but there are some more specific tools you can use to promote good conduct when it comes to customer service. 

If you want full control over how first impressions are managed, creating a script for initial greetings can be a good way to move forward. Not only will you control how consumers initially view your company, but scripting a response will also lead to a consistent first impression. Those who come back to the company will know what to expect, and a clear brand will be created. 

Alternatively, by using practice sessions during training, a sense of how the greeting should go, without a full script being used. Whilst this might lead to a greater range of responses for consumers, it will lead to a less robotic greeting, and encourage employees’ tone, rather than words, which arguably, is more important in creating a positive impression. 

Use feedback to guide employees on how to do a good job. Allow consumers to give feedback on their experience, and use this feedback to mould employees’ responses. In a similar vein, using mystery shoppers can be a good way to keep track of employees’ abilities. 

First impressions are everything…

First impressions can make or break a consumers’ view of a company. Make sure to follow these steps to achieve the impression you desire. Then, watch as consumers return time and time to your business. Once you’ve set a standard for impressions, make sure to keep them up. Consistency of response will be what keeps consumers coming back. Which, after all, is the goal of most corporations. 

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