The next time you need to buy a gift, pick up some milk or talk to a customer service officer, take note of a few things: do they make eye contact? Do they acknowledge you while you’re waiting? How much are they smiling? And do they leave you feeling satisfied or disappointed?

Being aware of which moments in a customer interaction are the most important is vital to the impression your customer leaves with. So what moment(s)s does your customer cling onto exactly? Is it the introduction, the middle or the departure?

Let’s play a simple game to find out.

Take a look at these images of vegetables from left to right, spending one to two seconds on each one to burn the image into your memory bank.
Once you’re satisfied, scroll down so you can no longer view the veg.

Now, which vegetables do you recall?

If you said broccoli and onion then you’re in tune with something called the Serial Position Effect!

The Serial Position Effect
The theory of the Serial Position Effect states that we’re more likely to recall the first and last items in a listed series much better than the middle items (Ebbinghaus, Hermann. 1913. On memory: A contribution to experimental psychology. New York: Teachers College),  as you experienced earlier with our vegetable game.

Now let’s take this theory and apply it to a retail environment…

Act 1, Scene 1
When a customer walks into your business, keep a keen eye on how your staff greet them. Do they offer a generic “HihowcanIhelpyou?” without actually engaging the customer? Are they warm & approachable? Most importantly, how would you feel walking into your shop?

First impressions are vital, with studies showing that we make judgments on people we’ve just met, within the first seven seconds of an interaction (Pitts, Anna. 2013. You Only Have 7 Seconds To Make A Strong First Impression).  This is not a lot of time to make decisions, but it’s long enough for your customer to decide whether or not to bother with you again.

Make your first impression wow the customer so that their lingering feelings about you are nothing but positive. By making this time-print within your customers’ memories, you’re guaranteed to kick things off on the right foot.

After your transaction is complete, use the opportunity to send your customer away on cloud nine! Consider a farewell that’s unique, leaves a lasting impression imprinted in your customer’s mind and just dare to be different.

If you have a counter for example, step out from behind the counter and hand your customer their purchase. Although this is a small gesture, you’ll be surprised how thoughtful it is and how extra special your customer feels.

If your customer has had an exceptional experience with you and you feel you’ve developed a rapport, why not ask for feedback on social media?  It’s a strong way to end the transaction and your customer will leave on sunshine!

You Say Goodbye and I Say Hello

With 74 percent of consumers stating they’ve spent more at a business when they’ve had a positive customer service experience (Clark, Jennifer. 2014. 2014 Global Customer Service Barometer), the importance of your customer walking away with a smile on their face is integral to your success.

You don’t have to go to the ends of the earth to ensure your customer has a positive experience: sometimes all it takes is a little effort in your greetings and goodbyes.