It seems very fitting that the first blog of my WHEN WORK WORKS series, should focus on first impressions.

Six months ago, we made our dream a reality and moved to the country to pursue a healthier ‘empty-nester’ lifestyle. I am still searching to find new services in our area – everything from hairdresser to dentist, dog groomer to mechanic. I had booked in November, an ophthalmology appointment based on a friend’s recommendation. It was the first time since moving that I was disappointed.

As I entered the reception area, I immediately felt unwelcomed. No one addressed me or even looked in my direction. In front of me were several older women, all supported by canes and walkers, talking amongst themselves about booking their next appointment. I assume they were trying to coordinate transportation as a group. While they worked it out, I stood back and waited for them to finish their plans, which took several minutes. Once it was my turn, the receptionist quickly grabbed my credit card & health card while admonishing me for being late. I didn’t feel the need to explain. She was the one organizing the follow-up appointments for the senior ladies. It was a few minutes well spent in my estimation. I was, then, ushered to the first waiting area. I was late for my position in the waiting room. The irony was not lost on me.  I sat down, the only person there and was completely ignored by the technician unenthusiastically cleaning her equipment. After several minutes in the waiting area, she, then, looked at my appointment slip and said “You are late. You will have to rebook.”

I suppose it’s no one’s interest that I had booked this appointment 2 months ago because I am having trouble with my vision or that I drove 30 minutes to a recommended specialist.

My visa was refunded. I did not book another appointment. In fact, I will not be back. I will continue to suffer eye strain while searching for another professional who will treat me with respect.

And there is the lesson.

Nothing will promote or kill your business faster than poor service.

I am certain that these people are accomplished and talented at their profession. But I will never know or nor will any other members of my family. They have lost us because of how I was treated.

In my opinion, there is absolutely NO excuse for impolite behavior in business. If you think you can get away with bad behavior because you are good at what you do, think again. If you think your clients will understand that you are having a bad day, you are mistaken. Your clients expect a certain standard of attention and you must deliver.

You must deliver because, in this day & age, you are not unique.

There are many different ways to get the services we require. I will happily wait, endure the eye strain and drive further to ensure I am treated with dignity.

Are you nodding your head in agreement? I’ll bet you are. We live in a world of supply and demand and with that comes a heavy dose of low tolerance. We want what we want and we want it now.

And that includes our interactions in person and virtually. How about your website?

With more of us working remotely, first impressions are more important than ever. How often have you searched a website, only to find the information outdated, links broken or complicated processes?

Studies have demonstrated that people spend less than 30 seconds perusing your website.

That’s a very short amount of time to create a good impression. Further studies have also shown that people exit your site after just 3 clicks. That’s not much of an opportunity to grab their attention so you better make it sure it works.

Lastly, we still rely on and need human interaction. Try as we may, we still need contact and interface with another living being in order to feel validated and that we matter. One study I read said that feeling like we “belong” is critical to our well-being and that chronic loneliness is as detrimental to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

So what does that mean for those of you providing a service?

It means that if you want people to use your business, and promote you to others, you had better make sure that they know that your business is important to you. It can be as simple as a “Thank you for your business” prompt at the end of a transaction. Check your systems and ensure it works the way you intend. People will not say ”Hey, where is my receipt?” or “I noticed I didn’t get a confirmation”.

Without proper acknowledgement, the feedback you will receive will be the sound of crickets.

People will simply not use your business. They will go elsewhere.

One of my favorite service providers, personally sends me a simple direct text that says “I’m on it” or “I’ll get back to you in X amount of time”.

The key here is to be respectful and responsive.

Those simple messages make me feel my business is valued and I know it is. And do you know what happens when I feel valued? I recommend his business to everyone I know.

Anyone know a good optometrist?

Perhaps you’ve heard these buzz words around the water cooler and in the media. Today, more organizations are shifting focus towards organizational coaching, coaching culture and workplace culture. But what does it all mean? The buzz words may be new but effective business management is not. In 2017, I am refocusing my writing towards the professional environment. My monthly WHEN WORK WORKS blogs will address a variety of issues that we all face in the workplace.  Whether you work full-time, part-time or volunteer, if you want to be happier, more satisfied and productive, I have something for you.