Colossal Fails of a First Date: Tips for Building Strong Customer Relationships

In Leadership & Strategy, Salesby Tiffany Hernandez

All good business owners know and understand the value of impressing potential customers and clients. After all, the success of any small business depends on customer relationships, and you invest a lot of time and money to create, build, and maintain them. The right marketing strategies make it easier to reach your target demographic and appeal to their interests. But you can’t turn any of these people into customers if you turn them off first.

stronger customer relationships - colleagues shaking hands

Sometimes, the most valuable business advice is the simplest. Whether you’re trying to breathe new life into a long-time business or find your very first customers as a startup, your first task is as simple as it gets: make a good first impression!

Every potential relationship starts with the chance to make a good first impression. And, just like romantic relationships, business opportunities can easily end before they even have a chance to begin. First impressions are priceless opportunities for any business, but how exactly can you make the most of them? As you design your website, prepare to interact with customers, and attend meetings, make sure you avoid the following “first date” fails.

Being Poorly Dressed

customer relationships - man in business professional suit in front of stairs

When it comes to first impressions, outward appearances play a big role. They tell others what to expect and how to feel in a matter of moments. That’s true for first-date fashion and web design alike. After all, if you show up in a clean, stylish ensemble, your date will be more able to focus on you and notice your best features. Wrinkles, clashing colors, and ill-fitting or inappropriate clothes, however, can be distracting and make the rest of you look unprofessional and unprepared. The same is true for your company’s digital presence.

A “well-dressed” website is intuitive and attractive, both easy to use and easy on the eyes. Instead of getting lost or distracted, users should be able to find what they want right away. This makes it much easier to take actions like scheduling an appointment or purchasing a product. They may not consciously think about it, but your customers will be more likely to associate a well-designed website with a well-run business. They’ll also associate your brand with a positive memory of a convenient and enjoyable user experience.

customer relationships - laptop with website on screen

Of course, if your website is difficult to navigate or cluttered with outdated fonts and graphics, users will have the exact opposite experience. If their senses are offended or they can’t find the information they want, they will most likely move on to someone else.

Learn More: Growing Your Business with Good Web Design

Keeping Them Waiting

Punctuality will never go out of style. Running late is a good way to run a romance – or business – into the ground. Whether you’re late to meetings or it takes you too long to return messages, the effect is the same as showing up late to a first date: the people you most want to impress will assume you don’t care or value their time.

When you keep customers waiting, they may assume you’re irresponsible and unreliable in other areas as well. Do you have poor time management skills during projects? Do you make other business commitments you cannot keep?  

customer relationships - woman holding watch

In that same vein, slowing down your customers can also cause frustration. If your website loads too slowly or the lines in your store get too long, your customers may explore and move on to faster, more convenient places to shop.

Sticking Them With the Check

Swooping in for the check at the end of a nice date helps make your date’s evening even more enjoyable. It allows them to focus on the experience rather than worrying about the cost or how to split the expense. But, if you stiff them completely and leave the bill on the table, you create an uncomfortable situation for everyone.

customer relationships - man holding wallet with cash

You wouldn’t stick your date with the entire check, and you should treat your professional connections the same way. Your goal is to make every experience they have with you as pleasant and easy as possible, even if you have to invest some time or money into it. Sometimes, that means going above and beyond with a free gift, unexpected discount, or extra service. It could even be as simple as a flexible return policy or slightly lower prices.

Having Sloppy Habits or Manners

No date wants to stare at food in your teeth or stains on your shirt while you try to win them over. Likewise, no client wants to deal with unprofessional slip-ups like typos, poorly timed phone calls, or bad email etiquette while doing business with you. Don’t give your competitors an unnecessary advantage; put your hygiene and manners first.

For example, don’t walk into a restaurant until you pop a mint and check your reflection from head to toe. In the business world, this means not communicating with customers until you’ve proofread every word. If your professional interactions are one-on-one, the same first date “red flags” apply: bad breath, sloppy or stained clothing, and dirty nails are as unprofessional as it gets.

Red Flags on Social Media

If you’ve ever scoured a date’s Facebook or Instagram before meeting them, you know that social media is a digital version of the first impression. When potential customers land on your social media pages, what will they see? Hopefully, they’ll notice your contact info first, followed by plenty of positive interactions with users and relevant, interesting posts. But what if they spot something controversial, vulgar, or negative?

There’s no reason to have polarizing content on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other social media pages. This includes everything from off-color memes to angry replies, reviews, and posts. Embrace positivity – especially when you have to handle negative feedback – and make sure your social media team sticks to a consistent code of ethics.

Learn More: The Foundational 5 For a Strong Online Presence

Ignoring Their Needs, Wishes or Complaints

You wouldn’t let your date shiver while you stayed cozy in a coat, so don’t be insensitive to your customers’ needs either. If someone has a suggestion, question, or complaint, listen to every detail and do your best to accommodate them. Even if you can’t make the changes they want or find a way to solve their problem, the fact that you listened and tried to help them will matter.

Respecting your customers’ wishes isn’t just polite, it’s good business sense! Their feedback is free market research, and if your business evolves to meet their needs, more customers may find you as a result.

How are you making good impressions on your clients and customers? By avoiding these common missteps and putting their needs first, you just might turn those initial meetings and website visits into repeat business. Don’t lose sight of what matters most to your customers.

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