by Jim Hinshaw
Here is an interesting concept, people make almost instant decisions about you when they first see you, one study says they make 11 decisions in 7 seconds, another said that they decide if they can trust you in 50 milliseconds! If that is the case, we need to be aware of how we come across to the new customer.
- Trustworthy: if we look happy, lean forward, and smile, we show that we are trustworthy. The phrase that the study used was if we are “baby faced”, a term that has a huge array of expressions. At any rate, smiling helps.
- High Status: high end clothing (specifically Tommy Hilfiger and Lacoste, according to one study) logos helped boost our social status. So would a uniform that has your company name, and even better, your name on it. A second-place finish would go to those who wear a name tag that can be read from 6 feet away. High status does not mean high priced, but it does mean high value. People pay for what they value.
- They decide your sexual orientation almost instantly, no idea how, but the study said it happens.
- Intelligence: if you look them in the eye while talking, they perceive you as intelligent. Notice I said perceive, that does not mean you are smart, it means they believe that is the case. Which is all that really counts. They want someone who can solve the problems they have, and will pay for that intelligence and experience.
- Dominance: men who have shaved heads or close-cropped hair will be perceived as ones who dominate the situation, or sales call, or service call.
- Tailored clothing: people wearing tailored clothing appear to be more successful. So, the shirt that is tucked in, pants that fit correctly, jacket the correct size, it all shows success.
- Dressed up: people that are dressed up are ready for a promotion. What does dressed up mean to the service industry. Shirts that have logos, certification patches (yes, they are important and people notice them), pants that are not stained, torn, holes in the knees. They want to know you are a hard worker, but your clothes do not have to show it. Stop here for a side bar. How can we stay dressed up and feeling good when we have been in an attic for 4 hours prior to showing up on this call? Hot and sweaty, dusty, and frustrated. One way: keep a change of clothes in the truck. As well as some baby wipes. Find a spot to stop and get out of the smelly dirty shirt, wipe down with the baby wipes, put on the clean shirt, pop a couple of breath mints. Get fresh. You will feel better and when you feel better it shows.
- Loose walking and standing style: people who have a clipped, tight walking style are perceived as neurotic, characterized by frustration, anxiety, and depression. A loose walking style can signal you are adventurous, free to try new ideas.
- Larger facial width to height ratio: you appear more aggressive, perhaps because you are frowning more, which raises your lower lip and lowers your eyebrows. Hint: when they ask you how you are doing: here is your answer. That covers it either way.
- Smiling, energetic, relaxed, and neat: perception is that you are religious. Not a specific type of religious, but that you have a higher power.
- Finally, if you are smiling: in 50 milliseconds, they perceive you as an extrovert. Someone who is glad to meet someone new, not afraid to get involved with others problems. Which is why you are there.
I realize this will start a whole series of employees saying, here is what you should do, pointing out to others what they can do to improve their ability to work with customers. Not the point of this message. The point is to look in a mirror, to see what you (and me) can do to improve our first impressions. And to realize that most of these perceptions are instantaneous and sub-conscious, it happens without thinking of it.
What can we do? Starts with when we pull up to the house. Get out within 20 seconds. Have your paperwork, booties, gloves, and mask ready when you arrive, don’t spend 2 minutes in front of the home pulling all that together. Figure out a way to have it all pre-arranged, they are watching you and get nervous when it takes minutes to come out of the truck. Knock on the door, step back 6 feet, social distancing. Have them see you put on the booties, gloves and mask at the door. Give your name and company quickly, hand them a card if you have one. Let them know why you are there, and then ask, have you noticed anything about the system that you care to share. The first thing the dentist says when you go in for a cleaning is; have you noticed anything different that you want to share, sensitivity or uncomfortable feeling. We should do the same, any changes in your comfort system, since they are now at home almost all day long.
Then we move into our maintenance or repair procedure, which is another article for another day. Thanks for listening, we’ll talk later. Stay healthy!