How do I make an impression with my customers?

Here’s a sad truth: Your average interaction with a customer will last around 15 seconds. Online, this may be even less, especially if a customer is purchasing a product. You have just 15 seconds to make a customer feel appreciated. 15 seconds to solve their problems with your service. 15 seconds to make them remember you and want to come back. No pressure.

Every time a customer comes into contact with you has to be meaningful. The former Chief Executive of Scandinavian Airlines, Jan Carlzon, describes these instants as ‘Moments of Truth’.

One customer may approach you with a question about a product. The next may ask if you can give them 10% off if they buy two items. The next may enquire about a delivery problem. In order to make a good impression, you (and your staff) need to be ready with the answers.


Customer service is about more than smiling and pretending to be happy. If you cannot solve a customer’s problem quickly, you are of no use to them, and they will go elsewhere.

Carlzon’s approach is to allow customer-facing staff to make instant decisions. If they have access to all information, and are allowed to take responsibility for a customer, the overall impression improves dramatically. His philosophy reads:

“Mistakes can usually be corrected later; the time that is lost in not making a decision can never be retrieved.”

The main takeaway from this is that giving staff greater autonomy not only increases their morale, but the morale of the customers too. However, even for a sole trader, the advice is valuable. If you can prepare yourself for any problem a customer may come to you with, and know the answers right away, you are more likely to retain their interest. Being able to supply an instant quote for repair work, or being able to tell a customer when the next appointment is available over the phone, may be the difference between success and failure for you as a business.

Tips to make the right customer impression:

  • Be well-informed, or make sure whoever dealing with the client is
  • Be autonomous: A customer can’t wait for your staff to ask you permission to give 5% off
  • Be caring: Care about their outcomes and make sure they know that you care

Showing your customers that you care needs attention to detail and diligence. When they make a purchase online for example, make sure your ecommerce website sends an email to inform them their order has been received. Follow up with delivery information and keep them in the loop if there are delays.

Also, the little touches, such as a with compliments card, or simply asking about their day, goes a long way towards building long term customer relationships that can help your business grow and thrive.

You may only have 15 seconds, but if you prepare well, and get those ‘moments of truth’ right, your customer relationships can last for the lifetime of your business.


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