Customer service research and the Cheers theme song tell us how important it is to remember and call someone by name. It not only shows respect, but also sends a message that you care enough to learn their name. I’m sure you’ve noticed how customers will light up when you surprise them by knowing their names. I recently experienced a little reminder of how it feels to be a recipient of the name-calling… so to speak.
Every morning at 5:00 a.m., you can find me at the YMCA. I’m not always cheerful at that time, but the young woman working the front desk is. She has been at this job for a couple of months, and every day she sings out, “Good morning!”
Last week, as I approached the desk to sign in, she said, “Your name starts with a P, right?” I looked up and smiled, and said, “No… B.” It was obvious my little clue didn’t help her, so I continued to punch in my code. She watched my name flash on the screen and said, “I always want to call you Polly or Holly, and now I’m glad I haven’t.” I told her to go ahead, because I liked those names.
The next morning, I approached the desk and she asked, “Does your name start with a D?” I said, “No… B,” and punched in my code. She looked at the screen and said, “Beth! Why can’t I remember that?” I smiled and continued upstairs to the dread mill.
On the third morning, I was barely inside the door before she called out, “Good morning, Beth!” My grin was huge as I approached the desk to sign in. She waived me on and said, “I already have you signed in. Have a good workout.”
I couldn’t believe it. Not only did she know my first name, but she had to learn my last name, too, in order to sign me in. I’ve never approached the tread mill smiling, but I did that day. I made sure to learn her name as I left, because she made such an effort to learn mine. She’s been signing me in ever since.
Learning a customer’s name is important. One way to do so is to pay attention to the names on credit cards or checks or when they use your loyalty programs. If taking an order over the phone, ask for the correct spelling. The extra effort is noticed. And finally, don’t forget to introduce new employees to customers. If you’ve already put a lot of effort into learning customer names, make sure that courtesy continues no matter who is working.