“Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, how you leave others feeling after having an experience with you becomes your trademark”. A positive first impression is a vital start to building a relationship with a potential client – you do not often get a second chance.
It is said that when making a great first impression, the first five seconds are key. This tiny amount of time will create a lasting impact and forge the direction of a relationship. A warm and sincere welcome gives a sense of caring and makes people feel appreciated, as well as making them feel that they have made a good choice in using a business in preference to others.
Nurturing these relationships is a crucial part of growing a successful business – this takes time, commitment and enthusiasm. In the age of social media it is all too easy for customers to share a bad experience with potentially hundreds or even thousands of people. This is why it is more important than ever to create a welcoming, memorable and friendly experience for a potential customer.
There are many statistics which support this:
- 89% of customers started doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience
- Even in a negative economy, customer experience is a high priority for consumers with 60% saying they often or always pay more for a better experience
- Even the average open rate for welcome e-mails is 50%
This idea is not a new one, people who feel welcome are far more likely to return. EP recently met with Luci Perry, Managing Director of The Welcome Team who provide high calibre hospitality hostesses, hosts and other promotional staff.
“A warm welcome is not just a welcoming smile, but it is a good start. You need to give your full attention to what is being said to you. If you can remember personal details about them it shows you have a genuine interest in having them as a customer. Knowing more about them will help you to anticipate their needs. If you have spent some time in researching the background of a potential customer this will also help you to welcome them, and demonstrate to them that you have a keen interest in developing a mutually rewarding business relationship.”
Luci points out the worldwide appeal of a warm welcome and how it is of paramount importance when conducting business. “The nature of the welcome will vary depending on different cultures. In South Korea there is no physical contact used, so a smile is your only weapon. Eye contact is such an important part of making a good first impression – the eyes are said to be ‘the windows to the soul’ as they can tell you a lot about a person. It’s very off-putting if you are greeted by someone who is looking over your shoulder or fails to make eye contact with you.
“Respect is defined as a positive feeling for a person. It is earned and must be shown first before it is earned. If you have anticipated the needs of your customer it shows that you have some concern for their comfort and well-being. We should bear in mind that a customer may arrive at a venue with various feelings. They may be anxious and may arrive stressed due to a difficult journey or other factors. This is your opportunity to dispel all the negative emotions that they arrive with, and a unique opportunity to make a fantastic first impression – don’t waste it.”
Luci has spent more than 15 years in the promotions and events industry, particularly in corporate hospitality and it was this experience that led to the creation of her company, “I could see how a warm, enthusiastic welcome and friendly face as people entered a venue, was a huge part of the customer experience. For them, it shaped the start of the day, and in many cases was also something that they took away with them.
“All of our staff, from hostesses to brand ambassadors understand the importance of how to greet people. They have the experience of working on many different types of events which gives them the ability to understand the importance of interacting enthusiastically and correctly with customers. This is the reason why we meet and interview all of our staff. It is my belief that you need to see people face to face to see how they will interact with others and to see how they present themselves.
The importance of a welcome cannot be understated. It is a form of personalisation which is valuable for the relationship to last. Some may say they have heard it before, but the question to ask is, if this is true, why have so many got their welcome wrong? Luci and the Welcome Team know how important it is, and so make sure to maximise the opportunity straight away to ensure the most is made from the welcome.
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This article is brought to you by eHotelier’s sister print title, EP Business in Hospitality.