Oh, those first impressions…

No one would argue that first impressions are critical to an organization’s image, reputation and businessBattlebus_2
success. So, why do so many businesses still get it wrong?  I’m not sure I have the answer. But, my recent sojourn to Normandy and the U.K. provided loads of good and not-so-good examples of first impressions. To wit:

The good:

1.) My Battlebus tour driver in Normandy made an indelible first impression. Battlebus is one of many tours offered of the D-Day invasion beaches and landmarks. Like its competitors, Battlebus crams eight passengers into a tiny bus and takes you to and fro for eight long hours. Without a passionate and knowledgeable guide, however, the tour could easily become more like a Bataan Death March than a once-in-a-lifetime trek. Happily, our Battlebus guide, Julian, was simply superb. He not only knew his stuff. He took the time to get to know his eight fellow travelers. He probed to find out what we knew, wanted to know and wished we’d known. In addition to the ‘usual’ destinations, Julian made sure we went off the beaten track and crammed in as much fun stuff as possible. I couldn’t recommend him or his tour group more highly.

2.) In the midst of a strategic partnership meeting at Peppercom’s London office, Jacki Vause and I were interrupted in mid sentence by our guest. He wanted us to know how truly impressed he was with Michael Cowdroy, the staffer who’d greeted him at our front door. The guest went on at great length about the importance of first impressions to a service business like ours and commended Michael again and again (Well done, Michael!).

And, now, the not-so-good:

1.) I stayed at a new hotel in London that positioned itself as being tres chic and tres trendy. And, it was. The hallways were lit with kelly green lighting. The restaurant servers were dressed in black from head to toe. And, the reception area had a working fireplace (which one doesn’t see very often in mid-July). Sadly, though, when it came to service, this establishment was neither trendy nor timely. Every morning I’d ask for a wake-up call and, sure enough, every morning they’d forget to call and wake me. Every morning, I’d ask for breakfast to be delivered to the room at 7am and, sure enough, breakfast wouldn’t show up until 7:45 or 8. There were enough other nitpicks to make my first impression anything but favorable. Odds are good I won’t return.

Isn’t it interesting how one person can make or break an organization’s image and ‘repeat’ business?

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