The kids and I are on a road trip, heading down to Boston to visit my brother. First overnight stop was at what I thought was going to be just another hotel. But I was wrong. From first stepping in to the lobby of Hampton Inns in Sayre, Pennsylvania we were made to feel like we might be the only people staying there that night. The funny thing is that the hotel and room we were in look and feel really no different from the thousands of other rooms in hundreds of other hotels. The kids have stayed in many, yet even their impression was completely different.
The difference was the receptionist on check in - their own Director of First Impressions.
She was very welcoming, extremely pleasant and courteous. After a long day on the road it was a welcome reception that translated in to the kids thinking the room was better, the hotel was nicer.
You immediately got the impression that nothing was going to be too much trouble. Sure enough, 15 minutes after checking in we received a phone call just to check the room was what we expected. Half an hour later we had a couple of questions. Answers dutifully supplied and again a phone call check a few minutes later that the answers solved our 'issues'. The kids verdict. We should check out other Hampton Inns when we travel.
What are the three lessons can you take from this with regards to your own brand and first impressions?
1. Set the tone early - in our time starved, attention span reducing world the first impression has never been more important. When you meet someone for the first time the actions and attitude you have at the outset are how you are going to start to be considered. Remember how you like to be treated on a first meeting and emulate it.
2. Reinforce the initial impression - do not settle for just wowing someone in the first five minutes. Think about how you can underline that impression by going above and beyond with a simple display of saying "that was just the start". Let people know this is YOUR 'norm'.
3. Every new interaction is an new first impression opportunity - we are not perfect and there will be times when we do not quite live up to that first impression. But that does not mean you have lost the relationship. Just pick yourself up and make the next interaction feel like the first one all over again.
When you think of the brands you return to time and again, even when a comparable option is available the chances are its consistency. Be sure that is the same for your personal brand.
I think I know the answer to the question in the back of my head. If I came back in a week, month or year and that receptionist was still working there would it be the same. The answers is yes AND no. If I was there for the first time then yes. If I came back I suspect that she might even have a note somewhere and welcome us back!