First Impressions Count

Give New Customers a Reason to Return

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Tommy Thompson Tommy Thompson
Ah, the joys of traveling. I was flying out to a presentation last week with a team from the agency, and, for one reason or another, we ended up using a different car rental service than we usually do. I'm a pretty brand-loyal guy, but what a great chance for these new guys to sweep me off my feet. After we navigated the slow-moving line and received our contract, we were instructed to sit tight as the van was brought around to the front. After more than 30 minutes of "the van is coming up right now" and smug attitudes from the staff and manager, our vehicle finally arrived and we were on our way.

My frustration from this situation comes not so much as a consumer but as a marketer. We all know how difficult it is to convert a heavy user of one brand into a heavy user of another -- or to at least consider trying another brand. Whether a brand touches the consumer either emotionally or rationally and creates that magical connection seems to be a key factor to its success. In today's world, that connection needs to live beyond what our consumers see, hear, read or experience at an event. The connection needs to follow through at the store level because that is what ultimately determines further use of that brand.

Ensuring that your front line and your store environment is welcoming to Hispanics is critical. Through advertising and other marketing tactics, you can probably get a Hispanic customer to visit you once, but the ultimate goal has to be for them to walk out of your store happy, willing to come back and, most importantly, have something positive to share with their friends.

Sharing is the operative word here, because WOM, or word-of-mouth, has gained influence with the digital explosion. For Hispanics, WOM is not new nor tied to the digital world. Hispanics, especially less-acculturated ones, tend to rely more heavily on the influence and recommendations of their friends and family when it comes to making purchases. This is particularly true for purchases of products that they are not that familiar with or that require a more elaborate thought process and comparative shopping. Additionally, Hispanics are not afraid to share their unsolicited opinions with other people whether they know those people or not.

As you fine-tune your Hispanic-targeted efforts or look to start connecting with this segment, it is crucial that you take a good look at yourself and your operations to ensure that the first visit to your store will be a success.

Some questions to ask: Do you have the right staff in place? Are they bilingual? Have you trained your non-Spanish-speaking staff how to communicate with Spanish-dominant consumers? Is your staff friendly? (A smile and a caring employee transcends any language.) Are your in-store materials bilingual? Can you accommodate a family vs. a single customer? Do you have relevant reading materials in the waiting rooms? And the list goes on.

First impressions count. Make the most of them. You wouldn't invite people to your house if it was a mess, so why do it in your storefront when connecting with consumers? You will probably find the Hispanic consumer is open to accepting your invitation when you make it, but just make sure your house is ready for guests. As for me, I will continue making reservations with the tried-and-true and recommending my colleagues to do the same.
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