CSRs in call centers, sales personnel, and everyone else in business have been trained for years that it’s important to use your customer’s name. It’s part of personalizing service, and using the customer’s name puts the relationship in our service delivery.
After all, why does everyone want to go to Cheers? (everybody sing!)
Dr. Ellen Weber has written a post about research that can give trainers and call coaches added ammunition when trying to explain to CSRs the effect of using the customer’s name. It seems that hearing your name spoken causes a “spike” in parts of the brain that have to do with our sense of self.
A couple of general rules for name use:
- Use the name conversationally. Hearing your name repeated over and over and over again in a call sounds silly and will tend to aggravate the caller.
- Use the name as soon as the customer introduces himself/herself. It not only establishes a personal service relationship, but it helps the CSR remember it. CSRs who don’t use the name right away tend to forget it and have to scramble to try to remember later in the call.
- Listen to the way the customer introduces himself/herself. If the customer says, “This is Mrs. Francis Bacon” you should respond with “Yes, Mrs. Bacon.” If the customer uses a title such as Doctor or Reverend, you should use the title when addressing him/her.
- Using a more formal address will generally not be insulting and is a good rule to follow. If you call the customer “Mr. Smith” and he isn’t as formal, he’ll typically won’t be offended, but will tell you, “Call me John.” If you start with the informal by addressing the customer as “John” you run the risk of him snapping back with “that’s MISTER Smith!”
- If the customer’s name is difficult to pronounce or you didn’t catch it, it’s perfectly acceptable to apologize and ask him/her to repeat it. This tells the customer that their name is important to you and you want to get it right. Many customers who have difficult to pronounce names will give you a less difficult option – “Oh, just call me J.R.“