Strategy & Best Practices

The Importance of First Impressions: Why Wowing Your Customers the First Time Pays Off in the Long Run

By R. J. Stangle / January 17, 2017

First Impressions

They say first impressions are the most lasting. Within the first 7 seconds of meeting someone, they will have made a solid decision about your trustworthiness, abilities, and confidence. A similar phenomenon happens when a customer “meets” a business for the first time. During that initial interaction, customers will make judgements about the company’s dependability, integrity and ability to serve their needs. Every subsequent interaction serves only to either support or oppose that first impression. A good first impression can lead to a positive, profitable relationship whereas a bad first impression leaves the company facing a difficult uphill battle to regain the customer’s trust or to even retain them as a customer at all.

When first meeting someone we all know the tricks to make a good first impression; smile, make eye-contact, shake their hand firmly, etc. But what can a company do to make sure that its first support interaction with a customer is as impressive as possible?

First Call Resolution

One of the most important ways a company can satisfy a customer is by resolving their issue efficiently. In a 2015 talkdesk survey, 29% of customers said that the most important aspect of an excellent customer service experience was resolving the problem on first contact, no matter how long it takes. At AppHelp, we know how important First Call Resolution is to overall customer satisfaction, and work hard to achieve industry-leading FCR metrics exceeding 94% across our programs.

But the speed of resolution is also significant - 34% of customers surveyed said that getting their issue resolved quickly was the most important factor with regards to customer satisfaction. It can be difficult for support agents to balance talk time and FCR, and too often one is compromised for the other. In order to make a superior first impression, companies need to be able to deliver a support experience that is both quick and effective.

Having specialized technical tools and expertise is essential in solving problems efficiently. Additionally, a big part of avoiding repeat calls is anticipating the customer’s next potential problem and addressing it right away. For example, we offer complementary tutorials and reference material for software such as Office 365 immediately after we migrate our partner’s customers to avoid frustrating call-backs. This diligence leads to increased customer satisfaction with both the product and the support service.

Low Customer Effort

Notable publications such as the Harvard Business Review and Business Insider are now reporting another metric that may compete with customer satisfaction as the top measure for customer retention: Customer Effort Score. A recent report indicated that customer responses are drastically altered based on the levels of effort they must devote to interacting with customer service representatives. The study suggested that 94% repurchased after a ‘low effort’ customer service experience, 88% increased spending after a ‘low effort’ customer service experience and 81% proceeded to spread negative word of mouth about the company after a ‘high effort’ customer service experience.

Offering 24/7 technical support remotely adds immeasurable convenience to the situation. Remote support services allow for customers to get help instantly, with no need to wait around for a technician to come to the home or office. Remote support technology even gives customers the option to step away from their keyboard while an expert agent gets the job done.

Multi-channel, Multilingual

Part of lowering the customer effort also means making tech support easy to access through multiple channels, in the preferred language of the customer. Phone support is still the most popular way for consumers to contact support, but there has been a shift towards other channels including live chat, email, and even social media.

See: 6 Support Channels to Improve Your Customer Service

Although we are entering a more global business world, customers are expecting experiences and services tailored directly to their individual needs. This means that as businesses expand internationally, or even just nationally, they are going to need to offer support in more languages than just english. Speaking to customers in their native language establishes trust and is the first step in creating a lasting bond. Multilingual support teams can make all the difference in retaining a customer who is stressed about their device or software not working the way they were promised.

Earn Advisors Status

To AppHelp, customer success truly occurs when we reach “advisor status”. This is when the customer can turn to the brand with confidence as a trusted source for their business-critical needs. A friendly, knowledgeable agent can turn a short interaction into a lifetime of brand loyalty. Despite the added convenience of the digitization of customer service, the human element of talking to a live expert who possesses both the technical knowledge and emotional and cultural sensitivity to respond competently and appropriately can’t be beaten.

Why Is This All So Important?

Providing superior support experiences is rewarded in turn with increased customer loyalty. In fact, 24% of surveyed consumers continue to seek out vendors two or more years after a good service experience whereas 39% continue to avoid vendors two or more years after a bad service experience.

The financial value for brands comes from the reduction in customer churn that superior support provides. According to Forbes, if a company can reduce churn 5%, it could mean an increase in profitability by 75%. Plus, the trusted advisor status means further opportunities to upsell and cross sell complementary services to customers along their journey. Delivering amazing support experiences can transform support from a cost to a brand-building revenue generator.