Making a great first impression – lessons for front of house

Have you ever stopped to think about how other people see you when they meet you for the first time?

It is thought that a first impression can be made within as little as three seconds.  With such a limited amount of time, how much can we really do to influence it? Another thing to consider when meeting someone for the first time, including your guests, is their expectations. Guests and callers will come to you with a pre-formed first impression, due to their expectations of the organisation that they’re visiting, the building, or the service provided.

Every day, we are all bombarded by perfect airbrushed images of god-like humans advertising everything from clothes to washing up liquid. The emphasis on the way people look has never been more prominent. So you would be forgiven for thinking that there is nothing we don’t already know about first impressions and presentation.  However, is making a good first impression only about appearance?

From interviews to meeting guests, clients and even new starters, you will be giving them a first impression of not only yourself but the company you are representing. The way you look is definitely important – this would include shaving and grooming for men and appropriate make up for women; hairstyle; clean and ironed clothes; adequate shoes, as well as looking after nails and skin.  However, once we have our appearance organised, there are a few other things to consider in making a great first impression:

Body language – together with appearance, body language is one of the most important elements of making a great first impression. This includes posture – how we stand, walk and sit, unconsciously give away how we’re feeling and even without knowing we make an impression on anyone passing by. Also important are facial expressions, eye contact and smile. The little things we do every day, rolling our eyes, leaning against a desk, slouching on our chairs, all of these will also send out a message about us to whoever happens to be looking.

Showing your personality – another key factor, this does not necessarily mean talking about yourself all the time, in fact, that’s probably not a good way to make a good first impression. Showing your personality, in this case, means being yourself. That way you can feel at ease when having a conversation with a guest and your interactions will be genuine. Listening is also a key skill here, where appropriate, taking an interest and asking questions can help you to find out more about your guest or caller, which in turn, means the service can be more personalised and memorable. One other factor is that if you’re able to be yourself, it should instantly give you more confidence.

Creating a good reputation – people think of a good reputation as something created over time, with lots of hard work. This is true, but if there is one thing that will make it difficult to create a good reputation is being late when meeting someone for the first time, for example. Another thing that will contribute to your reputation is good manners. So to make a great first impression and to start your good reputation, be courteous and polite. Considered common sense but sometimes forgotten, simple things, like opening doors for your guests, for example, will help to create a good first impression. Think of small gestures that apply to your role that you could incorporate to your routine and help to create that great first impression.

Your environment – it is always important to remember that we create the environment we work in. When our guests walk into our buildings, how do they feel? When they call, what impression do we leave them with? As a team, we are responsible for making our environments and for reflecting our company’s culture in our behaviours, so will the atmosphere we have created lead to exceptional and memorable experiences?

The one thing to bear in mind is that we cannot escape people’s judgement – we will create a first impression whether we want to or not. There’s no need to be afraid – this actually works in our favour.

First impressions also give us the opportunity to be memorable! ~ Ana

By Ana Canabarro

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