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Blog : First Impressions – setting the agenda for developing your customer relationships


First Impressions – setting the agenda for developing your customer relationships

By Stephen Yates - Development Specialist

Have you ever been in a meeting and realised you didn’t know the name of the person talking? Or been chatting to a client without knowing their role in the business?

It may sound extreme but it really does happen. For example, I was recently working in a large corporate building, meeting new people at every stage of the project. Despite all having a desire to help me with my session preparation, they did not interact with each other, had no awareness of the people around them and seemed more interested in getting on with the task they were doing rather than introduce themselves to each other. And, when doing a walkaround, it seemed they viewed the customer as an inconvenience.

With the economic climate driving us all to be ‘busy,’ perhaps we have lost some interpersonal skills along the way. Most importantly the simple skill of introducing ourselves and eliciting information from others. Going back to my example, I encountered seven people, and not one person walked into the room, introduced themselves by name and took a few seconds to establish rapport with me or the other delegates . In every incidence, it was only on my enquiry and introduction that I discovered their name and occupation. A friend and colleague suggested that perhaps they were not used to saying who they were, and why should they? I beg to differ; as any of you who have attended our development sessions on service, impact and relationship building know, it’s the first impression that counts; an event that takes several seconds, a memory that lasts forever.

In this age of internet based communication, social networks and identities, we might say we are losing the habit of introducing ourselves. It’s a quick tap on the keyboard, a quick tweet or a press of the ‘like’ icon in Facebook. We are indeed busy, (apparently the average corporate worker receives about 112 emails a day and that excludes the spam). We have fewer resources and less people around us to deliver service standards. It is for this reason, we need to be emotionally intelligent; investing in others and taking a few seconds to reveal who we are and what we do; creating a smooth and effortless relationship from which we will both benefit. How should we make sure we are living this day-to-day? Here are my tips:

1. What’s the shadow you want to leave behind you?

Whether informal or formal, we are all leaving a shadow of who we are and what we do everywhere we go. It’s the choice of how we want to be remembered that makes or breaks a relationship. Think about it, is your shadow a positive one memorable for the right things, your name, what you can do for others and where they can reach you, or are you remembered for the unknown? 

2. Invest in others

It’s what we call the emotional bank account, doing that bit extra, the little things that cost us nothing yet mean so much for others. Are you in credit with others around you, or are you in an unauthorised overdraft and only reach out to others when you need a helping hand?

3. Appreciate and acknowledge

Letting people know when they have given you a hand, when they have really made you feel special and just taking time to step over and appreciate what they have done for you, and most importantly, using their name. If we don’t know their name then we clearly haven’t considered that first step - deciding on the impact and shadow we want to leave.

So, next time you are networking, visiting a building, client or partner; have some fun, surprise your colleagues and collect names. When they aren’t volunteered just, introduce yourself and hold out a hand. Not only will everyone be surprised at how many people you appear to know, but how much easier those interactions will be.

Do you think technology is changing our approach to relationship building? Do you make an effort to introduce yourself at events and find out about others?



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