In today’s world, it’s likely that the first time a customer meets your business, it won’t be through an advertisement or a storefront, but online. That digital first impression matters more than you might think. As is the case in the real world, you only have one chance to have a great digital first impression. If you get it wrong, your potential customer will quickly switch to a competitor. But if you do it right, you’ll be on your way to having a loyal customer for a while.

Your organization should also be prepared to make that impression quickly. Research shows you only have seven seconds to make a first impression. And as with any relationship, it’s important to realize that the first impression is just the beginning.

However, it’s even more important to understand that most people divide their first impressions into two categories:

  1. As a potential buyer
  2. As a new customer.

It is in the latter case that most organizations fail to create a lasting impression.

Beyond the acquisition

Far too many businesses don’t give enough thought to what happens after a customer signs up for their product or service. How do they make sure the customer stays happy and loyal and is likely to recommend this organization to friends and family?

So much time, effort and care goes into acquiring new customers to secure a sale, but then the ball is completely dropped when onboarding and inducting a new customer. Many organizations miss this unique opportunity to reassure new customers of their purchasing choice, provide them with the information they need, guide them through this murky phase of the nursery, and create a powerful first impression that sets the tone. tone to the upcoming relationship. .

To exacerbate the missed opportunity, efforts to acquire new customers create an even greater expectation of service than one would expect after acquisition. This creates a first impression chasm that is hard to come back to, regardless of future service levels or product quality.

A cross-sectoral problem

If you reflect on your own customer experiences, you will likely recall several instances where companies have failed to communicate effectively with you after signing up for a new service, let alone making you feel unique and welcome. I’m not talking about conventional, generic messages that say “Welcome, we’ve attached a copy of your contract”, but rather those that speak to your context and specific requirements and reassure you about your purchasing decision.

Think of the mobile network operator who only contacts you when you upgrade, or the insurer who only contacts you when your policy needs to be renewed. Either way, I’m pretty sure you got a disappointing reception when you first signed up, let alone a personalized interaction as your contract progressed. During this time, however, I’m sure there were plenty of other competing companies vying for your attention. With the ease and speed with which you can switch service providers these days, chances are you are constantly on the verge of leaving your current provider. It’s the modern consequence of companies failing to develop long-term relationships with their customers and people simply voting with their feet (and of course, their wallets).

But what if companies don’t act this way? How much would that help them? It turns out the answer is “a lot”. According to a study, 73% of respondents prefer brands that tailor their experience. In addition, 43% of customers spend more money on brands they are loyal to. It should also be noted that existing customers represent 65% of a company’s turnover.

So it’s a no-brainer for organizations to invest in building a powerful first impression with new customers and developing a strong, ongoing relationship long before asking them to re-engage. We already know that a simple and powerful customer experience can influence customer behavior, enabling organizations to drive digital channel adoption and customer self-service while increasing the frequency and volume of spend. As a result, the service cost is reduced. The benefits are in addition to the well-known benefits of loyalty and advocacy (the two most powerful forces in business today).

Effective CX starts with optimizing operations

Consistent and personalized communication

It just doesn’t make sense for businesses to only communicate with customers when they need something from them. Consider this analogy: If two people were asking you for R10,000, would you give it to the friend you see all the time and who has always supported you, or that person you once had a crazy party with and never heard from? again?

The friend you give the loan to is the one who makes a good impression. And they’ve set the tone for the relationship time and time again. Organizations should do the same.

Once you’ve been enticed to sign up for a product or service, you should expect the red carpet to roll out. You should receive a personalized digital welcome pack that explains how to access everything you need and who to contact if you have a problem. It should include a glossary of terms and an explanation of the usefulness of each document, along with a personalized video tailored to your specific needs and a consolidated dashboard that welcomes you into the family. Thereafter, over the next few weeks, you should expect to receive carefully selected information that will be provided to you as and when you need it, allowing you to become a new customer and benefit from the first experience.

Suddenly, a business has fundamentally changed the relationship, and the conditions for long-term trust and loyalty are established.

Considering the benefits of this approach and the risks of not doing it, it makes sense not to just make a strong initial impression, but to build on and maintain it.