You only get one chance to make a first impression…

I was out walking with my son a few weeks ago, along our local high street. We are very fortunate to have endless options for buying a coffee, all within a short walk of each other. On this particular day, I noticed that one café had closed down. It was no real surprise and I had never been in. Why? Well, the shop front looked a bit dated, and the tables and chairs a bit ‘basic’. As I say, there are lots of cafes within close proximity, and in those circumstances, customers like me will make a split-second decision, possibly even subconsciously, based on the first impression. Hence, the café that looks a bit old fashioned doesn’t attract customers when there are other choices.

Thinking about this example in terms of legal firms, whether your firm is similar in the sense of being on a busy high street in a local town with other firms geographically close by, or in an ‘online’ sense where you are a link on a search page. What first impression would potential clients get of your firm? What does the ‘shop front’ look like? How does your website look and function? Does your website come up on the first page of Google? Is it easy to navigate around? Is it clear what service you can offer clients? Is it easy for people to contact you? Can they get hold of you outside of office hours? And what about the first impression a potential client would get if they went to the next stage and actually walked in the door, or phoned with an enquiry? Who answers the phone and how quickly? Are they polite/welcoming/enthusiastic? Are they knowledgeable about the services you offer?

All of these things make up the first impression a prospective client has of your firm, and they will make a decision on whether to instruct you, based on this first impression. The experience is crucial to the success or failure of your business. It doesn’t matter if you are the ‘best’ lawyer in town, or provide the greatest value for money – the prospective client will not use you in the first place unless you get the first impression right.

Improving some of the issues above will involve spending money, but many will not. Ensuring that you pay as much attention to your website as you would the shop front is crucial as this is the way most consumers now find you. Creating the right impression with what you post on social media is also key. You only get one chance to make the right first impression.

Back to my local high street…I was walking there again this weekend. The same shop had been taken over by new owners and re-opened as a café. The new branding looked good, they had some nice tables set up outside, and it looked busy with customers. I went in this time.

Gregor Angus, Business Development Manager at The Cashroom