The Advantages Of Remembering Your Customers' Names
Very few companies remember and use the customers' names. Employees rarely, if ever, remember and consistently use the names and remember the faces of the customers they see most often, let alone the customers they see only occasionally. There is nothing more precious to a customer than their name. It is the highest level of customer service. In a year the typical customer can count on one hand the times an employee will use their name. Most companies and employees don’t care. Few realize the impact it makes on a customer.
This is a stealth approach to keeping customers and stealing customers from your competitors. It is laser surgery. It costs you nothing but the time to train your staff and is a very effective way to create customer passion.
I can think of only 3 firms that are good at using my name. Delta Airlines, Amazon, and Apple. All three are customer service role models. Why not join their ranks?
Every organization that wants to be a service leader should stress the importance and benefits of remembering customers and include strategies to help employees do so. When someone calls you by name, whether you realize it or not, you form a bond with that person. Not only is it a sign of respect, but makes those customers feel both welcome and important.
The more valuable the customer the more important it is. Most companies have technology that has the customer’s name on it. So it should be easy for an employee to say, “Mr. Charles, good afternoon. Thanks for calling. How can I be of help?”
Why don’t we remember and use our customers’ names? There are three simple and easily surmountable obstacles that keep most employees from remembering and using the names of their customers:
Indifference: When customers enter our place of business in person or by phone, we don’t always think to greet them by name or to show that we remember them. Employees often think of their work as a job or grind that they must “get through,” they don’t invest themselves in the success of the company. Employees may not understand how their actions affect the “Big Picture” at their company.
Fear: This incudes fear of interacting with customers or fear of not pronouncing a name correctly. They see their customers as a necessary part of the job but would rather get through the day with a minimum of interaction. Ask customers to remind you how to pronounce their name. Customers appreciate any effort on your part to remember their names. This only works if you eventually remember the customer’s name and the proper pronunciation.
Lack of Training: Most employers and employees don’t understand the importance of using their customer’s name. This is a skill you can learn and master. All employees should be trained on why and how to remember the customer’s name.
It’s difficult for a company to differentiate itself with price, product, and quality. On the other hand, when you provide superior customer service, which includes remembering your customers and using their names, you set yourself and your organization apart from the competition and increase customer loyalty.
An employee whose income is based on tips could double their income with this strategy. Visualize going to a restaurant and telling the hostess you have a 7pm dinner reservation for four under Nelson. The hostess says, “Mr. Nelson so nice to have you back. Sidney will take all of you to your table, Mr. Nelson.”
Then at the table, “Mr. Nelson my name is Sidney. I will be your server tonight. Would you like something to drink while you look at the menu?” What impression would the guests have? How much extra would they tip?
While most of us don’t have such exceptional memories, we do have at our disposal the tools we need to identify our customers. When a customer hands you her credit card, her name is on it. The same is true for membership cards and reservation forms. It simply is not acceptable to ignore that information.
11 Steps for Successfully Remembering and Using Names
- Pay attention to what your customers say.
- Avoid distractions. Focus on your customer.
- Learn your customer’s name as soon as possible.
- Use customer's names early and often.
- Engage your senses.
- Connect information. Link new data to information you already have.
- Get organized. Write things down.
- Visualize. Go over the encounter in your mind. Try to remember every detail.
- Rehearse. Refer to your notes and review what you learned.
- Use affirmations. Tell yourself you have a great memory.
- Stay motivated. Stay positive.
Most people can easily remember faces but recognizing a face and attaching a name to it takes an entirely different set of memory skills.
- You will never remember a name if you fail to notice it.
- Recognize and acknowledge customers’ names whether they tell you or you learn it another way. Do not ignore the important information that’s right in front of you.
- When you first hear a customer’s name, repeat it back to him in conversation as soon as possible.
- Add the name to the beginning or end of a greeting: “Tasha, how nice to meet you,” or “It was a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Gainer.”
- Associate the names with something the customers tell you about themselves.
- Write it down. Include the name, a phonetic spelling, any personal details, and the subject of our encounter.
When you greet customers and clients by name, you are telling them they are important to you and your organization, And when customers feel important, they are more likely to return and do business with you again. That repeat business can make the difference between failure and survival. Treat every customer like a king or queen. Remember their face and name and you will create customer passion and loyalty.
John Tschohl is a professional speaker, trainer, and consultant. He is the president and founder of Service Quality Institute. He is one of the foremost authorities on service strategy, service recovery, success, empowerment, and customer service in the world.
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