First impressions are extremely important.

In fact they are so important that business guru Tom Peters recommends creating a new C-Level job for it – so in addition to your CEO and your CFO, you will have a CFIO (Chief First Impressions Officer). Of course, in smaller businesses (and obviously in one-person businesses), a person can hold more than one C-Level job.

As CFIO, what could you do to create a better first impression?

In the past, you've probably mainly thought of what happens when people enter your store. And that is obviously critical to execute well. But, as CFIO, should think of every step that could contribute to a customer's or patient's first impression.

For instance, the customer's initial contact with you could be via phone call. So ask yourself: Are we answering the phone in a friendly manner? Is our answering machine message useful and interesting?

And how about getting to your business: Are directions clear and easy to follow? Is there signage that shows where to enter and where to exit?

Then they arrive in your parking lot: Is your parking area landscaped beautifully? Could you have music playing there? On rainy days, could staff members meet customers in the parking lot with an umbrella and walk them in?

Go through the process. Make a list of all the things that might happen before your customer even entered your business that would contribute to his or her first impression.


This article was originally published in May 2014.

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