What Impressions Are You Creating?
My friend Bob Thompson of CustomerThink posed an interesting question the other day. Bob’s really an authority on customer experience and tends to take a broader view of customer experience than most–and I think he is right.
We talk a lot about the buying experience and the customer experience, as though those are the most critical things to consider and measure as we look at the overall topic of customer experience. As intense and focused as they may be, I think we miss a huge amount by just discussing these.
While not elegant, we need to be thinking about the impressions both our organizations and we as sales and marketing professionals create. Leading organizations are concerned about the impressions created and their reputations in the community at large. They don’t focus just on creating great customer experience, but they worry about the impressions they create with everyone. They know these impressions are critical–what do the communities in which they operate think of them? What do their shareholders think about them? What do their suppliers think of them? What do their employees think of them?
Leading companies worry about the impressions created. They don’t restrict it to the buying or customer experiences. They know their broader reputations influence their ability to attract customers, good suppliers, investors, great employees, and to be welcome in their communities.
But what about the impressions we as individuals create? People are always evaluating us. Our customers look at everything we say and do. Do we meet our commitments? Are we interested in helping them–genuinely? Do we care about them? Do we create value in every exchange? Are we trust-worthy?
Our peers and managers do the same thing? Are we team players? Do we help others? Do we contribute to the organization? Are we interested in the success of others and the organization, or are we just out for ourselves? Do we meet our commitments? Are we trust-worthy?
The only time we escape creating impressions is when we are alone in a dark room, disconnected from everything. All other times, we are creating impressions. Those impressions shape how people interact with us, our ability to engage them and our ability to achieve our goals.
I’m constantly amazed by people that think they can “turn it on or off.” In front of customers, they display certain behaviors, but once they are away from the customer they change completely. In the office they are very professional, but get outside the office and they behave completely differently. Not long ago, I was in some meetings with some sales people. In the office, they had a very professional demeanor, but later at dinner, it was a Jekyll - Hyde type change. They were incredibly negative, complained, and whined about people in the office, strategies, their jobs. It changed my impressions of them–and not for the better.
The impressions we create shape how we are perceived and our reputations. There is no “on” or “off,” unless we are alone in a dark room, we are always creating impressions.
What impressions are you creating? Are they building your reputation or are they hurting you? You control the impressions you create, make sure you are creating those you want.
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