Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Forming a Great First Impression

Every Chef knows that how the food looks is as important as how it tastes.

LIkewise, you may be prepared to sell a service, but does your customer see preparation in your delivery? Or, does your customer see a wreck of a website or a nervous person sitting in front of them.

In Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcom Gladwell confirms years of research into first impressions and then takes it one step further. He says our decisions occur much faster - instantaneously or in less than two seconds.

In Gladwell's research, he finds we do this whenever we meet a new person, or when we have to make sense of something quickly or encounter a novel situation. "Snap judgments are, first of all, enormously quick: they rely on the thinnest slices of experience. They are also unconscious."

When we meet a person, our primal instincts are hard at work trying to gauge if this person is a threat or not. We are unsure how to interact with them. We don't know their temperament and basically we want to figure out if they will hurt us or help us.

Our minds act with lightning speed, calling upon all of our senses during any first encounter. We listen to the timber and tone of the stranger's voice. Our eyes focus on movement and other non-verbal cues and our noses try to detect any foreign or threatening smells.

While our brains are busy sorting through all the input the other person's brain is doing the exact same thing. In the case of the web-based sale, emerging systems track customer movement and make recommendations to the administrator.

Although it sounds like a joke, that last sensory input (smell), may be the final frontier of the online experience. It's hard to imagine, but sooner or later, scent will become part of the online experience. I just hope it's not a two-way technology...

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