Archive for the 'First Impressions' Category

Down the Drain

I recently wrote a post about the less glamorous side of  first impressions.  One of the examples I gave involved restrooms.  It’s an area that can often get overlooked when thinking through first impressions and your guest experience.  However, it can quickly create a negative experience.

It’s interesting to go into a really nice environment and find a horribly maintained restroom.  Equally interesting, is to go into a place that’s dirty and not well-maintained, but has an immaculate restroom.  I’ve been in nice restaurants that have surprisingly dirty bathrooms and restrooms in run down gas stations that looked like they belonged in a four star hotel.  In both cases the quality of my experience was impacted.

Here are a few areas to think through when evaluating the restrooms:

  • Smell – hopefully it smells good or at least not bad.  Air fresheners are cheap
  • Paper Products – TP & Paper Towels – make sure before an event that these items are well stocked
  • Trash Cans – these need to be in a place that are accessible, because if they aren’t trash will end up all over the floor. Please place at least one beside the door for the germaphobes
  • The Floor – clean it well before and after an event
  • It might be a good idea to assign someone to make rounds and do some spot cleaning (wipe up any water on the counter, pick up trash on the floor, etc.) at regular intervals

For additional reading – here’s an article about first impressions, rest rooms, and the college admissions experience from TargetX.  Here’s a look at the winners of a contest they held.

Less Glamorous Side of First Impressions

My dad’s managed restaurants for my entire life, so needless to say I’ve spent a lot of time in and around them.  One thing that I never understood when I was younger was why he would always pick up trash around the parking lot on his way in or out.  A couple of days ago I was thinking about this again and it reminded me that thing little things matter, and

Less glamorous can = Big Impact

He knew that even if the service was excellence and the food tasted great, if guests constantly had to walk past trash on their way in it would negatively affect their experience.  If you walked into a nice office or a theater, but the bathroom had paper towels all over the floor, a dirty counter, and writing on the stalls, it would change your impression of the environment.

It’s easy to get people excited about the glamorous side of first impressions – greeting guests, providing them with much-needed information, being the host/hostess or waiter/waitress at a restaurant.  It’s not very often you find people competing to pick cigarette butts out of the mulch or scrape gum off the floor.  When it comes to first impressions, the less glamorous roles – picking up trash, washing dishes, cleaning the bathrooms, landscaping – are as important as the high-profile ones.

I’ve given a few examples, but also know that a lot more exist.  What are some examples you’ve seen of this positively or negatively?

Entry Points

I’m pretty passionate about customer service.  A couple of things organizations with good service do well is make you it easy for you to interact with them and make you feel comfortable, early.  There were a couple of things that I read over the last week that reminded me again of the importantance of first impressions and entry points.

I read this story on Mark Waltz’s blog about making the first steps safe.  At Granger, they’ve made intentional decisions about their environments that have make it safe for someone to connect.  Volunteers, especially those entrusted with making the first impressions for your organization, are given a huge responsibility to make people feel comfortable and welcomed.

John Bishop wrote about the crazy volunteers at Elevation Church and their eternal impact on one lady’s life.  The volunteers there have a history of impacting the lives of those who show up for the first time. 

Casey Ross asked the question, “Do You Make it Easy for People?”  How difficult is it for people to interact with your organization?  Once they show up, will the environment(s)/experience(s) you’ve intentionally created cause them to put up their guard, or let their guard down?  Also check out his latest installment about the importance of “How,” which contains one thing his organization did to help create a less confusing first experience for outsiders.

How easy is it for others to interact with your organization?  If you could get them to give you one shot, how confident are you that they would return?  Are you helping those who are entrusted with your first impressions understand the importance of their role in your organization?