The Importance of First and Last Impressions

Submitted by Scott Buttz, Senior Vice President, East Group, Towne Park

You only have seven seconds to make a positive first impression.  So says Carol Goman, from her contribution in Forbes Magazine in 2011.  And the first impression you make can have lasting consequences.   You never get a second chance to make a first impression.  We’ve all heard or said this line before.  So true indeed.  First impressions are critically-important to anyone having an opinion, making a buying decision, or taking action.  Last impressions are also incredibly-important in making future decisions, net promoter referrals, or simply providing feedback about experiences.  Making first and last impressions BOTH count is important for anyone or any organization trying to succeed in today’s competitive environment.

Towne Park is most known for the quality of our service.  We differentiate from our competitors by providing a unique service experience for our customers.  We advance the guest and patient experience through diversified services in the hospitality and healthcare industries.  We provide parking and transportation services, patient logistics, guest and employee concierge services, door and bell services, patient experience services, event services, and more.  Over the past 28 years, we’ve developed a service standard focused on giving our customers a great first impression when they arrive as well as an outstanding last impression when they depart.  We understand how important it is for a guest at a resort hotel to have a great arrival experience to start their vacation or stay.  We know patients arriving at healthcare facilities need a smooth and efficient arrival and comforting interaction with empathic representatives ready to help them get to their appointments without delay.  Creating incredible first and last impressions is our brand.  It’s what we strive to do.  And by providing a superior service, we believe we’ll have extraordinary outcomes for our associates, our clients, and ultimately Towne Park.

First and last impressions influence the confidence and trust others have in us, and decisions others make about us.  There are incredible consequences for both positive and negative first and last impressions.  But which ones are more important?  First impressions are critical in setting the tone for a guest’s or patient’s total experience, opening the doors for careers when interviewing, establishing rapport and productive dialog for business development opportunities, and introducing professional networking opportunities.  As important as these first impressions are, the last impressions we make on people, clients, guests, and patients may very well be the most LASTING impressions.  The last impression we have on others can determine whether or not they stay with us, tell others about us, give us a chance to correct a mistake or opportunity, and grow with us.  Let’s discuss a few ways we differentiate through first and last impressions.

 

There are lots of ways we create positive first impressions.  We establish confidence in our guests, patients, hiring managers, prospective clients, and others by our professional appearance, promptness, preparation, energy and attentiveness.  We also create a positive first impression with how we drive our guests’ and patients’ vehicles slowly and safely, or even how long patients’ need to wait to be transported within a healthcare facility.  There are also a number of ways we create positive last impressions.  We are as present and attentive for guests and patients departing as we were when they arrived.  We leave our guests and patients with amenities like bottled water, mints, or even radio station guides and maps for cities they may not be familiar.  For our hospitality guests, we ask about their stay and overall experience hoping we can understand highlights and potential dissatisfiers on behalf of our clients.  If we can uncover something about their stay they wish would have gone better, then we can have a representative of the hotel intervene and try to make it right prior to their departure.  This way we can help create a more positive last impression.  This can impact the guest’s trip advisor feedback, a future referral, or even future return stay.  In the healthcare space, we are very aware departing patients may not have had an experience they want to go through again.  So we want to be very polite, empathetic, and helpful to make sure patients aservnd guests of the facility are able to depart without delay and without added stress.  We’re committed to creating a very positive and supportive final interaction to their overall experience.

There are also times when something doesn’t go as well as we or our guests’ expect with our service.  They may have had to wait an extended amount of time, one of our associates may have damaged their vehicle, or we may have given poor directions or incorrect information to a patient or guest.  In all of these cases we have to recover in order to create a more positive last impression.  We call this positive recovery.  The principle of positive recovery says we have a chance to earn higher customer loyalty when we have a great recovery from a service failure or mistake.  I like to think of a positive recovery as a great way to leave a great last impression.  We hope we never have to recover from a mistake, but if a mistake is made we have a wonderful opportunity to recover well and earn a more loyal customer for the future.

Sometimes we don’t have an opportunity to recover in a tough situation, but the Towne Park values help guide us in our obligation to create a positive last impression anyway.  If we lose a client, for example, we are dedicated and passionate to deliver our very best all the way through the last day of our partnership.  We realize we have an incredible opportunity to leave a lasting impression with how our client sees us handle ourselves with class, professionalism, and service commitment even after the decision was made to go with another vendor.  We create a very positive last impression with how we conduct ourselves in defeat.  If we were to give up, let our service level fall short of our standard, stop soliciting and listening to guest and patient feedback, and even move our talented associates on to their new assignments before the turnover is complete, then we would inevitably create greater dissatisfaction and damage the long-term impression left with our client.  The opportunity to leave a positive last impression also happens when Towne Park doesn’t get a key contract or client opportunity we worked hard to earn through the bid process or leads from prospective customers.  We understand handling the rejection or disappointing situation with class and grace will leave a positive last impression and helps keep us in the running the next time.  And there will ALWAYS be a next time!

Creating positive impressions on others is very important.  First impressions happen very quickly and mean the difference between a good start and a bad one.  Positive first impressions can open doors to many great things.  Last impressions are also critically-important and they often have the most lasting influence.   Positive last impressions create promoters who stay with us, tell others about us, and grow their business with us.  Remember the principle of positive recovery as well.  Recovering from a mistake extremely well leaves a phenomenal last impression and often creates more customer loyalty than if the mistake never happened.  Making first and last impressions both count is a staple of the Towne Park brand uniqueness.  Make it count!

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