“A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” – Dale Carnegie
Juliette in Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliette exclaimed, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose / By Any Other Name would smell as sweet.” Clearly, she wanted to ignore Romeo’s family name to justify her desire for him. Sorry Juliette. Our names are important. Names are most especially important when we are interacting with customers. There are three major reasons why.
Customer Feels Important
How can you get the best service possible in a restaurant from your server? Ask the server’s name and use it often. It gives you an edge over the other customers who fail to show this level of concern. One might object, “But, I am their customer and they should be asking and using my name, correct?” This is correct, and I might argue that making the server feel important, by using their name, will encourage them to provide their best efforts to serve you regardless of how busy they might be.
People feel important because you have taken the time to get to know them personally. How likely will you gain cooperation if you can make the customer feel valued. Cooperation from customers saves time, effort, and money. It also creates a buffer between you and any emotional upset in case something goes wrong and a complaint is imminent.
Shows You Care
Taking time to learn and use a person’s name requires effort. That effort yields dividends. Using someone’s name shows you care about them personally. Once again, how likely will the customer cooperate with you if they know you care.
Asking, remembering, and using a person’s name, demonstrates listening. Try this depressing test. See if you can count the number of people in your life who currently really listen to you. My guess is, you will struggle to count more than five. It’s depressing and it makes my point. Using a person’s name demonstrates listening skills and boosts your ranking in their relationship scale.
More Willing to Listen
When you demonstrate listening it encourages the customer to be more willing to listen to you. Customers who listen can experience greater levels of service. If they listen well, they will remember. If they remember, they will more likely recommend you and your company. Once again, their cooperation will increase.
I recently had my routine three-year colonoscopy. Lying on the examination table wearing the required one-half (open backed) gown, I was feeling a bit nervous and bit out of control. I wanted everyone to be in a good mood and cooperative. I started asking for everyone’s names. I asked the nurse, the doctor, the anesthesiologist, the other nurse. I used their names and then asked, “Are you in a good mood?” It made everyone laugh and put them at ease. I felt better too.
Everything worked out well. Did the use of their names make a difference? Who knows? It could not hurt. I would like to believe yes it did.
Even though you may not be ready for your next colonoscopy or perhaps you won’t soon be going out to eat, start using people’s names often. It makes them feel important, valued, helps them to cooperate, and it builds a foundation for a trusting relationship. The benefits are immeasurable.
Dr. Wally Hauck is a senior vice president and co-owner of Communico. He is the author of Art of Leading: 3 Principles for Predictable Performance Improvement, Stop the Leadership Malpractice: How to Replace the Typical Performance Appraisal, Unleash Employee Engagement: 7 Initial Conditions for Outstanding Results