In February 2014, I wrote a piece titled “Remember the Name” about a young woman at my YMCA who took the time to learn my name so should could check me in as I walked through the door, eliminating the need to stop and punch in my code. I’m more than embarrassed to see the date of that post, because shortly after that time I stopped the 5:00 a.m. workouts and started letting myself go.
On Monday, I got The Running Group back together (although I call them by a less-than-kind name in my phone) and we met at the Y. I walked in and had to key in my code for the first time in a year and a half. As I started to walk away, and the same woman who knew me so well in February 2014 said, “Wait ma’am. Can you try again?” I re-entered my code, then she looked at the screen to make sure I was a member and said, “It worked. Thank you!”
On Tuesday morning, as I walked in the front door, I heard a sing-songy voice across the lobby, “Good morning, Beth!” As I approached the desk to sign in, she said, “I already have you checked in. Have a good run!”
One time. It only took her seeing me one time after an 18-month absence to remember my name. That woman excels at customer service.
I’ve created a little exercise for you to try with your staff. As customers walk in the door, see if you can recall their names. Here’s a form to help you keep track of name recognition, face recognition, frequency of visits, and–if you don’t know their names–a chance to capture them today. Give a sheet to every member on staff working today, and at the end of the day, compare results.
I realize that you all have very different circumstances. Some of your stores are in extremely large cities, some are in very small towns. The amount of foot traffic in our stores can be vastly different. But we all can be better about learning customer names. You might know everybody who walks in the door, but what if you’ve stepped into the back room? What if it’s your day off? What if you’re just not there? You still want that customer to be treated with the same respect you show them. This is especially important if you have new booksellers. It’s a mutual courtesy to introduce them to your loyal customers. You’re illustrating to the bookseller that this customer is especially important to the store, and you’re showing the customer that they’re relationship with the bookstore is important enough to be notified of changes in staff.