We’ve heard the importance of first impressions before, but what exactly goes through our minds upon our first encounters? Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy says that based on first impressions, people are answering two important questions in their head, which are:
- Can I trust this person?
- Can I respect this person’s capabilities?
As a business owner, you already know that few things are more important than earning a client’s trust, and having them believe in your capabilities. With that in mind, first impressions are imperative to securing and keeping clients, and your office is often the first point of contact and visual representation of what you have to offer. If you want to make sure you’re executing this first and crucial part of client interaction, here are some tips that will give you an edge:
Make your reception area hospitable
The reception area will be the first place your client’s start to form opinions about your company as a whole, so it is important that it expresses the vibe of the company, as well as looks clean and inviting.
This is a good area to really communicate your company’s culture and appeal to your target demographic. So, when deciding kind of style you want to go with, it’s important to consider who you’re trying to attract and what you want your space to say about your company. Are you a creative agency with edgy clients, or is your main goal to gain the confidence of an older, more conservative demographic? Ask yourself these questions when making interior decorating decisions.
Hospitality is another important role of reception areas, so aside from making sure guests are greeted, you can offer comfortable seating, parking validation, water, tea, or other refreshments, a place to hang coats, or perhaps extra umbrellas for areas that get frequent rain.
When a client walks in, you don’t want them to be met with a stale, cold atmosphere. Ideally, you want your space to feel bright, open, and lively without being chaotic. You can greatly enhance the ambiance of your space by taking advantage of natural lighting through windows or skylights, introducing plants (and keeping them alive), and also playing low music in the background. Another important detail is smell – visitors can be turned off by strong fragrances as well as what you had for lunch, so try to keep the smell as neutral/pleasant as possible.
Artwork is another very effective tool in enhancing ambiance, and can also carry the theme you want expressed in your workplace. These details create positive associations, and will go a long way in creating a pleasant atmosphere that makes your clients feel at ease.
Stay clean and organized
Keeping your environment clean should be a no-brainer when trying to make a good first impression, but there’s often a lot of room for improvement in keeping operations organized.
Working from a disorganized atmosphere will give clients the impression that you might not be the best at what you do, – which is the last thing you want going through their head! If you’re not finding a solution to clutter, or able to quickly access what you’ll need when working with clients, they’re going to notice.
If you can’t stay on top of end-of-day cleaning, and your building doesn’t already provide a cleaning service, it’s worth it to get one yourself.
Stay on top of maintenance
Do you have ceiling lights that are burnt out or flickering? Blinds that are bent or missing panels? Dated looking carpets, or pilling furniture? Clients are going to make assumptions about the health of your business by how well maintained and up-to-date the interior looks.
You can keep your environment looking successful and thriving by keeping your office equipment in working order, updating to newer technology, and staying on top of tasks such as dusting and polishing fixtures. Anything that looks in disrepair or in need of maintenance is going to bring down their confidence that your company is a flourishing industry leader.
Next time you walk into your office or business, try looking at it with scrutinizing eyes and ask yourself what first impressions you would make about your place? Are they the impressions you want clients to form when walking in? Use these ideas to make improvements that will lead to better first impressions that inspire confidence and trust.