Creating Positive Customer Impressions


August 10, 2011

Have you ever heard that we form our impression of a person within the first few minutes of meeting them?  And sometimes, you only have a few minutes with a person to create a lasting, positive impression of you or your business.  I had an experience this week that reminded me how important first impressions are.

I made a tough decision recently to change dentists.

I’m someone who is typically fairly neutral in how I feel about dentists because I typically only have to go for cleanings so it’s never been very traumatic.  The dentist I had for years was very nice and seemed competent, certainly no reason to “fire” him.  His dental hygienist drove me crazy though.  She was messy and every time I left the office my entire face would be wet from all the water she sprayed as she tried to do her job.  It was awful.  So, I decided to find a new dentist.

I made my appointment after doing research on several dental options and was immediately impressed when I made my first appointment.  The receptionist was not only pleasant (as she should be in her job) but she also went out of her way to ask me what some of my preferences were when coming to the dentist.  The next day, I arrived home to find I had a phone message from the new dentist.  He wanted to call in advance to introduce himself and ask if I had any questions or needed anything.  Wow! He was already off to a good start in that first impression category.

I arrived for my appointment yesterday and the entire experience was outstanding.  I was greeted by every employee throughout my time in the office.  I was told what was happening by each person who worked with me.  As I left with my mouth completely numb and feeling tired, I still had to smile about the positive people experience I had.

These are the kind of stories I want people to have when they interact with me in my job.  It would be great if each person left feeling like even though they may not have the answer they wanted to hear, they are leaving with the answer they needed and can smile about our overall interaction.  It’s easy to:

  • Smile when you greet someone
  • Look genuinely interested in the person
  • Listen intently to what they say
  • Provide expertise the person needs
  • Thank the person and ask them to come back

How about you?  What experiences have you had that stand out as a model for your own interaction with your clients?  




  • I have to ask why you didn’t speak to the dentist or office manager about the bad hygienist? This is something that would have been nice for the dentist. I am certain that if you felt this way about this particular hygienist, others felt this way.

    Most of us service providers wonder what we do wrong when we lose customers. We DO listen, and if most of us worth our salt will do ANYTHING we can to keep a paying customer.

    • @Doug- I told the hygienist several times that I did not like how she was doing the job and she didn’t seem to care. My thought at the time was that if I told the person directly, that should have been enough to have her alter her behavior to not continue the cleaning the way she was. In this case I’m not sure that telling the dentist would have helped. I definitely agree that someone has to be told if service is not acceptable.

  • Wow. That’s horrible. You would think that if she were being told that she was doing a poor job, she would have changed her behaviour for the sake of her job.

    Well, it sucks that the general attitude of the office seems to be that they don’t care. No wonder why you switched dentists…

    I always advocate sending a nice, hand-written note to the dentist as to why you switched, but ultimately, it’s up to you. I imagine that if enough people switch from this dentist, then s/he would finally fire that hygienist with or without a note.

    • @Doug- I like the idea of the note. I’ll do it. Thanks 🙂

  • You’re welcome.

    People need to know what they’re doing wrong. And while it may sting a bit, the dentist in question will be forced to examine how things are done in their office. You will help them immensely. After all, people aren’t fired for “nothing”, right?

Comments are closed.

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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