Your customers’ first experience with you can determine whether they become loyal customers or fast churners.
Today, a story about my local dry cleaner.
(Yes, I know. Stay with me here.)
Not long after we moved to a new neighborhood about 8 months ago, we had a pile of clothes that needed to be dry cleaned.
The problem was that my previous dry cleaner was far enough away to make getting there and back on a regular basis a hassle.
And, to be honest, I was never that excited about going there anyway.
So I did a quick search on Yelp, and was a little bit surprised by what I found.
A local cleaner—only a few blocks from me—stood out from the rest of the list in a big way. Not only did they have 4.5 stars (something I’ve never seen for a business like dry cleaning… who gets that excited about pressed shirts?), but they had more than a few raving reviews!
Intrigued, I walked over there that very afternoon to drop off my clothes, and was hit with my first pleasant surprise as I walked through the front door.
“Good afternoon”, said the smiling man behind the counter. “How are you doing today?”
Not exactly the welcome I was used to.
I greeted him and put my clothes on the counter.
“I don’t recognize you,” he said, still smiling. “Is this your first time here?”
It was, I told him. I was new to the neighborhood.
“How exciting! Welcome. And thank you very much for coming by. I really appreciate it, and I’ll take good care of your clothes for you.”
Within a minute of entering the store, I was having a conversation with a guy who felt like an old friend, and who, more than simply wanting my business, wanted to make sure I was comfortably settling into my new home.
Soon after, he printed my receipt and handed it to me, pointing to a line toward the bottom showing a 10% discount.
“To thank you for being a new customer. See you soon.”
The Power Of A Magical First Impression
When I walked out of that dry cleaner that day, I was sold.
I was going to be a loyal, long-term customer.
Now, of course the work had to be good. And it was.
But I don’t have the knowledge or expertise to know if their dry cleaning is any better than the work done by the dozen other cleaners in my neighborhood.
And, I suspect, neither do most of their customers.
But the way that they made me feel on that first visit—like they genuinely cared about me and my clothes—is what is going to keep me coming back.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
I’ve since learned that these dry cleaners are not the cheapest in the area. Nor are they necessarily the most convenient for me (there’s another less than two blocks away from my house).
But I’m still a loyal and happy customer.
And a lot of it has to do with that first impression.
3 Ways To Leave A Lasting First Impression On Your Customers
It would be a mistake to think that the first impression in this story was all about the 10% discount.
It’s not about the discount, and simply offering a discount is NOT going to accomplish what we’re after here.
A magical first impression is about recognizing that the customer has a choice, and showing genuine appreciation that they chose you.
That doesn’t have to mean any sort of grand gestures; my story certainly didn’t have any.
Below are five ways you can create a lasting first impression that will keep your customers coming back for more, and more, and more…
1) A Personal Note
When someone signs up for your service or buys from you, sending a heartfelt, personal note is a great way to make it clear how grateful you are for their business.
And if it comes from an actual person (it should!), it can also go a long way in beginning to build a personal relationship with that customer.
Here’s the note we use at Groove, which also helps us collect great feedback on what our customers hope to accomplish with Groove:
2) A Magically Simple Onboarding Flow
A super-simple onboarding flow (how you guide a customer through the initial steps they need to take inside of your product) shows them that you respect their time and attention, and want to make life easy for them; a clear sign of a business that’s looking out for you.
One of the reasons that Slack has become such a success is the magic of their onboarding flow; it’s ridiculously easy.
Slack walks you through the steps that they know successful users complete quickly:
Check out our guide to building a great onboarding flow, and always keep this simple rule in mind: your users should never be left wondering what to do next, or why.
3) A Welcome Gift
Another effective way to ingratiate yourself with your customers is with a meaningful welcome gift.
In a world where most of our business is done digitally, physical gifts are rare, and anything from a t-shirt—like MailChimp and Rackspace send to new customers—to a simple handwritten note can make a big impact.
For more welcome gift ideas, see our customer gifting guide.
A Great First Impression Can Last Forever
As customers, we’re not used to businesses making amazing first impressions, because most businesses simply don’t bother.
But that’s why focusing on that first impression can be such a huge win, setting your business far, far apart from the competition.
What’s the best first impression you’ve ever gotten from a business? Have you had success with optimizing your own business’ first impre ssion?
Let me know in the comments below.