What First Impression Are You Making?

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“You only get one shot at making a first impression.” I’m sure we’ve all heard this statement over the course of our lives, from the time of our youth, to preparing to enter the workforce.

As a software organization, that does most of its work, sales and technical, over the phone or via email, it already makes it somewhat difficult for our staff to make a great first impression. The moment that contact hears you, his or her brain begins to make thousands of calculations. These calculations are made faster than Usain Bolt’s 100-yard world record time, making major decisions about one another in the first eight seconds of speaking.  We don’t have the luxury of presenting with posture, giving a firm handshake or appearing professional in our dress attire.   We have to answer questions such as, “Are you trustworthy?”, “Are you competent?”, “Are you likeable?”, and have to do it through our words, voice inflection, phone smile and overall service skills. 

There are hundreds of philosophies out there regarding how to make a great first impression in the customer service world.  To me it starts with one simple thing and that’s making or answering that call with a smile. I once had someone tell me, “Show your teeth.” I know, I know this is obviously somewhat cliché but a smile can truly be heard through the phone. Smiling as soon as you connect with the customer will begin the interaction positively and create opportunity for a productive and positive exchange. I could get into the mechanical aspects of how this works with vocal cords being pulled in a specific way which creates a friendlier tone or how moving around brings in more air to the lungs which removes the monotone voice but I’m sure you don’t want to hear about vocal cords and lung capacity. The tone of your voice either makes or breaks you when you are conducting business over the phone. People can’t see that you are competent and knowledgeable. What they use to assess your credibility on the phone is your tone of voice, and how do you create the best tone…smile!

A smile, or the nonvisual sense of a smile for phone customer service representatives, to me is the most significant part of a business transaction.  This is why I believe a smile makes the best first impression in regards to customer service, it’s a promise or pledge from a team member to give a positive service experience.  Smiling is a validation of that organization’s commitment to great customer service.  It provides you the opportunity to make the best first impression.

I strive to look for people, when hiring, that don’t have a struggle smiling.  This is one of the reasons we are the best in our industry at customer service.