I’m going to give you two scenarios. These are actual scenarios from companies that I visited. I want you to decide which company you would rather do business with:
Scenario 1: I walk into the office. It is a stark place with grey walls. The receptionist doesn’t look up. She is busy. I sit at a small coffee table on a small, uncomfortable couch. There is nothing on the table. I wait for a few minutes. Finally, the receptionist looks up and says in an exasperated way, “Can I help you?”
I say, “Yes. I’m here to see John.”
“Just a minute.” She calls John and says, “Someone is here to see you.” She turns back to me. “Have a seat.”
“Thanks,” I said, and sat back down.
After 10 minutes, John arrives. He shakes my hand and we walk down a grey hallway. When we pass people in the hall, they don’t look up, they don’t acknowledge my existence. We finally make our way to a grey, windowless conference room with Successories on the wall with sayings like “there is no I in team”.
“Do you want some coffee?” John asks.
“It’s down the hall in the kitchen.”
I walk down to the kitchen and grab a Styrofoam cup. I pour the coffee in the cup and reach for the sugar and “cream” canisters. I pour them into my cup, but the coffee is cold, so the “cream” clumps up in the cup. I pour it down the drain and head back to the conference room. When I arrive, John and I immediately begin the meeting.
Scenario 2: I walk into the office. When I enter, the receptionist walks from behind the desk, puts out her hand and says, “You must be Mr. Darnell. Welcome! Please have a seat and John will be with you shortly.”
I sit on a comfortable couch in a beautiful lobby adorned with artwork from local artists. On the table in front of me are magazines and a book filled with the history of this company. I thumbed through it and saw some beautiful projects while I listened to some very nice, classical music.
John enters and takes me down the hall toward the conference room. Everyone we meet looks me in the eye and says hello and welcomes me to their office.
We reach the conference room. It is filled with windows and more artwork. “Would you like some coffee?”, John asks. “Sure”, I say, “if it’s not too much trouble.”
Soon, two young people enter, each with a silver trays. On one tray is a silver coffee pot, a small, silver pitcher filled with real cream, and a silver sugar bowl filled with sugar cubes. John pours our coffee into real ceramic cups branded with their logo and adds the sugar and cream. The second tray is filled with Petit Fours, cookies, and small cakes. John then asks me about my travel to the office and my hotel accommodations. He tells me about some of the buildings in town that they have built or refurbished. He offers me some tickets to their local symphony and lets me know several other wonderful things I can do while I am in town. He asks me how my business is going. After some time, we begin our meeting.
Which company would you rather do business with?
One other example is when I went to a field trailer. I walked in and was ignored for five minutes. Finally, someone said, “Hey, dumbass, you want to close that damn door? We can’t heat all of South Georgia.” Wow! What a negative impression. That guy had no idea who I was. I could have been the owner’s representative for all he knew.
More importantly, what do people feel when they walk into your office or job-site trailer? Do they feel warm and welcomed, taken care of, nurtured? Or do they feel unsure and lost? Everything in your work spaces create an emotional impression. So, what impression are you creating as you read this blog?
One final thought: Most people’s first impression of you and your company is your outgoing message. Have someone call your phone right now. Most of the time you will hear an electronic voice saying that the person at this number is not available. I always call those twice because I think I’ve reached the wrong number. If you want to experience the real horror, start calling the folks in your company and listen to their outgoing messages. It’s pretty frightening. It’s either an electronic voice or a boring, perfunctory, outgoing message. Some are totally incomprehensible. There is rarely a mention of a company much less some kind of mission or vision or emotional connection. Why not make your outgoing message engaging and fun? Why not create a message that mentions your company and creates a positive emotional response? Since this is the first impression, make it count.
Stay tuned for our final Part 4 next week on The Emotional Side of Marketing!