In psychology, a first impression is the event when one person first encounters another person and forms a mental image of that person. Impression accuracy varies depending on the observer and the target (person, object, scene, etc.) being observed. So, whether they are in your career or social life, it’s important to know how to make that first impression count.
Everybody knows how important first impressions are. But not everybody is aware that the ‘first impression’ is actually made in only a seven second window. These first impressions can be nearly impossible to reverse or undo, making those first encounters extremely important because they set the tone for the relationship that follows. This means, whether in an interview situation or when you’re welcoming a customer at a reception desk you need to act quickly in order to make a brilliant first impression as you only have one chance.
In his comprehensive research on communication, sociolinguist Albert Mehrabian found that in a face-to-face encounter, seven percent of a verbal message comes from the words used; 38 percent comes from the vocal tone, pacing, and inflection; 55 percent of the message is transmitted by the speaker’s appearance and body language.
Our in-house Learning and Development team are always reminding us via their training that visual communication has the most impact in creating a first impression and what you wear, your body language, your facial expressions and gestures all convey a message. Everything you do ultimately contributes to what others think about you, and clients and guests will have a perception of you based on what they see.
So what can we do in our front of house teams to make that first impression count?
- Uniform standards – make sure your uniform and personal grooming are exceptional
- Own your areas – whether that’s the reception, the event space and meeting rooms or the AV equipment you manage, treat it as you would your own space
- Lead by example – set the standard for colleagues to follow
- Never accept second best… be exceptional in everything you do
- Planning and preparation – visitor lists, guest passes, meeting room checks, the more prepared you are, the smoother the customer’s journey will be
- Challenge others – help and support colleagues to be the best
- Adhere to procedures – they are guidelines set out to help the service run as well as it can do
- Embrace training and development – take ownership of your future
Remember, we only have one chance to make an exceptional first impression to our guests… and don’t forget to create that lasting impression too as your guests depart.
Keith Walker is Head of Service, North at Mitie Client Services