We’ve all heard that are the most important. However, more often than not I find people forget the power of last impressions, especially in any customer-facing environment. The last impression is the moment where a representative/server/etc. has the chance to put the icing on top of the customer experience cake, ensuring that whoever they were helping leaves wanting to return. We have a favorite restaurant we visit in New York City, but the cuisine is not the first thing I think of when I tell people about the restaurant. Instead, I talk about a waiter; his name is Iron.
From the first day I walked into the restaurant, Iron has been amazing and was always focused on creating an excellent customer experience. He was welcoming and engaging when he brought us our menus. He knew about every dish the restaurant served, and his service throughout the meal was wonderful. Then, when we were getting ready to leave, Iron told us how much he enjoyed serving us and expressed the hope that he would see us again soon. He and told us which days and shifts he usually worked. He suggested I text or call him directly whenever I wanted to have dinner at the restaurant. Essentially, he offered to be my personal point of contact any time I wished to dine at this restaurant.
Competition for diners’ dollars is fierce in New York. There are more than 10,000 restaurants in Manhattan and more than 700 in our zip code alone. Although we have a few favorite places, we see Iron at City Crab more often than any other place. That’s because each time we go, we know we are especially welcome. We feel as though we are with a family. How can those other 10,000 restaurants compete with that? The answer is in focusing on the customer experience.
In my first book, , I explained how each successful customer encounter involves three essential elements: , , and . Most people understand the importance of the first two. If you’re in customer service, you know the customer should be greeted first and then offered help. It’s The Leave-Behind—the words and actions that express the interest in the customer’s return— that seems the hardest of the three to remember and act on.
The Leave-Behind Is Your Last Chance to Create A Memorable Customer Experience
The Leave-Behind represents any number of little things that associates can do and say to make customers want to visit again. Just as with Iron, The Leave-Behind can be as simple as a card with your name and number or letting customers know your normal working hours. You can also offer to notify them about the arrival of new products they might like.
The point of every Leave-Behind is to make it easy for the customer to stay in touch. Every aspect of the customer experience must reflect your expressed desire that he or she return and shop with you again. Even when you haven’t made a sale, the human connection established while attempting to help the customer and The Leave-Behind can mark the start of a relationship that will result in future sales.
If you meet someone for the first time and have a great conversation at lunch, dinner, or coffee, the ultimate compliment is paid when one person says to the other, “Let’s do this again. And let’s do it soon.” I think everyone who has ever been out on a first date understands the importance of “It would be so nice to see you again” and “How about next weekend?” Customers have the same need, the same expectation, whether they are aware of it or not.
When you are invited to return, it makes you feel wanted and accepted. Those businesses that understand the value of inviting customers to return will reap the reward of happy and returning customers.
It doesn’t matter whether you own a gas station, manage a customer service department, or a run a medical office—having a person from your staff communicating a message that you are eager to see the customer again can work wonders in improving the customer experience. It makes a customer feel good not only for the moment but also over and over again. The reason is found in the way our brains are hardwired. We all have what are called “mirror neurons” that prompt us to respond in a positive way to a positive, friendly request. Sincerely asking someone to visit again soon will automatically give a nudge toward doing so.
Sadly, I find that far too often customer experience representative’s place most of their effort in delivering an exceptional first impression while falling off in delivery towards the end of the encounter. If this blog post communicates anything, it is the importance and power of a strong last impression. Even if an encounter with a customer starts off strong, if it does not end on a positive note, they will be left with a souring taste in their mouth and are less likely to return and recommend that others check it out. and truly deliver their best customer service in both the very start and very end of their interaction with customers will only lead to more repeat business and more word of mouth amongst customers who are leaving your business counting the days until they can return.