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Everything Matters When It Comes to First Impressions

Mastering Your Customer’s Arrival Experience

In my first of two books about Starbucks titled The Starbucks Experience , I posited a customer experience principle I referred to as “everything matters.” That concept prompted an Orlando Sentinel reviewer to offer a tongue in cheek criticism by noting “everything matters – that narrows it down, doesn’t it?”In The Starbucks Experience , I used the everything matters concept to point out how seemingly irrelevant details can undermine a brand experience. For example, Starbucks seeks to deliver an affordable luxury experience that required leaders to resist the urge to save money by changing from two-ply to single-ply toilet paper. If the company had made a comprise on quality at that important bathroom customer touchpoint, it could have created doubts about the actual quality of ingredients that went into their food and beverage items.Certainly, no leader can drive perfection across every aspect of a customer’s journey (although my mentor Horst Schulze – founder of the modern-day Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and author of the book Excellence Wins – suggests every leader should strive for nothing less than perfection). Given limited resources, I spend a lot of time helping my clients look for ways to deliver excellence at the highest value moments across the journey of their core customer segments.While each customer group will differ on the moments-that-matter most to them, certain customer interaction points play a fairly universal role when it comes to customer engagement or customer churn. For example, arrival moments, whether they occur on your website, during an initial phone contact, or when customers show up at your office or store, typically make or break customer relationships.In my recent book, The Airbnb Way , I shared that:Internal research conducted at AT&T retail stores has shown that within the first 10 seconds of arriving in their stores, customers are deciding whether they will stay or leave. If the customer isn’t greeted in that short time, there is skyrocketing likelihood they will pivot and go. Similarly, Princeton researchers found that decisions about attractiveness, likeability, trustworthiness, competence, and aggression are made within one-tenth of a second. First impressions do matter, and customers expect to be greeted promptly.The importance of arrival impressions is further supported by a study by SuperMonitoring, which shows that 57% of users say they will not recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, that first impression not only sends customers away, but it also has them withhold their referrals.At Airbnb, for example, mobile-friendly elements, ease of search and navigation, and page load speeds suggest everything matters when customers first arrive on the web platform. In The Airbnb Way , I note:Felix Gessert, CEO of Baqend, a cloud service company that uses unique algorithms to shorten webpage load times, notes, “Page speed has become a defining factor in this race, as over 40% of users abandon a site if it has not loaded within the first three seconds. According to the New York Times, even waiting just a little longer than the blink of an eye (just over 400 milliseconds) can cause unrest to users…We tested the 10 travel destination and accommodation sites with the highest market share in the U.S. for their performance. Tech companies in the travel industry seem to take the issue seriously. The site of market share leader Trip Advisor loads within 0.7 seconds. Only Airbnb is faster, loading in under 0.5 seconds, thus coming close to the famous blink of an eye.” That “blink of the eye” speed gives Airbnb the opportunity to win business, but it takes thoughtful service design to effectively steward technology throughout a customer’s journey.How are you doing with your welcome experience across all the channels through which your customers arrive? I’d love to talk to you about how everything matters during your customer arrival experiences.I welcome your arrival on my mobile-friendly site josephmichelli.com or better yet, we can schedule a time to talk when you simply click here.

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