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First impression counts

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Customer service experts believe that corporations often have just a few minutes for which a customer can form an impression of their brand. Those few minutes are referred to as ‘the moment of truth’ and may be the only opportunity that the corporation has to interact with a potential customer. The impression that the customer forms of the corporation may be positive or negative, and results in either the customer making a repeat purchase or choose to take their business elsewhere. For many local businesses, this critical first impression is the interaction between a security officer that was outsourced, has no allegiance to the corporation and has not undergone any training in customer service.

How can one rationalise leaving it up to an untrained outsider to determine whether a potential customer is attracted to, or repelled from your organisation? Recently, I observed a security officer at the door of an establishment, obviously tasked with the job of determining who was permitted inside when, and who was not. The officer’s decisions regarding customer entry were on the basis of the type of transaction that customers wanted to carry out. While one can understand that the security officer was clearly operating under a directive from the organisation, in [this person’s]attempt to control the number of customers on the inside at a particular time, it is left to wonder if the organisation’s intention was to have their first line of contact with customers be with a callous and unfriendly individual, akin to ‘an angel standing at the Pearly Gate, to determine who was allowed entry to heaven and who was sent to hell’.

The situation that has been presented here has several implications. First, the corporation is at risk of disqualifying itself from an opportunity to make the best impression to a potential customer, since the customer may be turned off long before their interaction with a trained representative of the corporation. Many of the outsourced security officers are not equipped to deal with the diversity of customers and are not obligated to act in the best interest of the corporation. In addition, many do not understand how their roles and responsibilities align with the overall goals and values of the corporation. In the business of customer service, the first impression not only counts but it is lasting; as such, corporations must endeavour to ensure that the first impression is their best impression.

Dr. Wendyann Richardson is a Management Consultant who specializes in corporate governance, business operations management and refining of skills through training. She can be reached at [email protected]

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