You may remember the Beach Boys – the all-American purveyors of intricate, fragile and often beautiful songs about sun, surf, love and heartbreak. The band’s creative core was the tortured genius Brian Wilson. An incredibly gifted writer, producer and arranger, Wilson rewrote the rule book for pop music in the 1960’s before succumbing to a drug-hastened mental breakdown in the early 1970’s.
There is an infamous story about Wilson’s behaviour at a meeting of record executives sometime in 1969. Around this time, the Beach Boys were having great difficulty in securing a new record contract. Having gone through several failed attempts to make a deal with a number of labels, they received an offer from Reprise Records, a boutique label in the Warner Bros. family.
Given Wilson’s reputation for instability at the time, Reprise needed to be convinced that he still had what it took to create saleable new music. In order to do this, they arranged to meet Brian in person at his home studio.
On the day of the meeting, a group of Reprise executives drove to Wilson’s house, accompanied by the Beach Boys’ manager. As they pulled up at the parking area to the rear of the house, Brian emerged; his long hair combed neatly, his smart clothes carefully pressed – and his face painted a vivid shade of bright green.
During the two hour meeting that followed, Wilson was the perfect gentleman, proving to be astute, commercially aware, polite and professional. But with his face painted green.
The Beach Boys almost lost the deal.
It’s very hard to get past a poor first impression. By our very nature as humans, if our first impression of something displeases us, whatever we see next is diminished or at worst made irrelevant. You may have heard the phrase “only one chance to make a first impression” and it’s sadly true.
Customers are extremely and increasingly sensitive to the first impression created by your business. You could be the best business in the world – have the greatest products, the most premium service and incredible staff but if the image created by the first interaction with the customer is a negative one, all of these things count for nothing. That’s a lot of money, time and resource wasted, don’t you think?
Your business will have a front end or first point of contact. It may be a contact centre, a retail outlet or something else. Whatever happens here influences the customer’s impression of your entire business. Here’s a few examples of things that can go wrong:
- Staff with low skill levels
- Poor presentation (e.g. emails, shop fronts, brochures)
- Hard selling
- Inflexible processes
All of these things paint your business’s face green. They create an indelible first impression that sticks with the customer no matter how good the subsequent experience is.
I had an experience as a customer of a company who were in the premium end of the lifestyle market. I asked for some information on their products via their website – an experience that proved frustrating as I had to complete a very specific and limited form that didn’t allow me to fully express what I wanted. Having submitted the form, I then received a poorly formatted email that included a rather cursory and thin brochure. Then, around two days later I began to receive regular voice messages from the company, attempting to pressure me into attending an event they were hosting onsite.
I felt harassed and undervalued, while questioning the quality of the company’s products, thanks to the poor presentation of the website and email. Needless to say I didn’t do business with these guys – their face was most definitely painted a vivid shade of green. I later found out that the company’s products and level of service were the best in the industry. What a shame I couldn’t see any of that before I committed to do business with them.
What’s it like to do business with you? Are you providing amazing customer service but with your face painted green?
Maybe it’s time to wipe off that greasepaint and let customers see the very best of what you can do.
Managing Director – Franklin-Hackett Ltd.