What is the sweetest sound you can hear? Your name. That’s right, it’s personal and real and in today’s age of communication overload, used far too little.
Think about it, you don’t often use someone’s name in a text message, almost never in a Tweet, only if you are tagging them in a Facebook update, and often salutations are left off in email today. Now think about face to face interaction. How often do you hear your name used when you are in conversation with a friend, a colleague, family, or a vendor. Really not very often. And yet, it is the most powerful tool to grab your attention.
Let me illustrate this. About five years ago I had moved into a new home in a new neighborhood and was finding convenient services nearby, including a local dry cleaner. Fast forward to today and I’ve moved twice since then, once to the mountains a full two and a half hours a way, and another time to about 7 miles aways, not far, but this dry cleaner used to be within a mile of my home. I still use the same dry cleaner.
Why? It’s not because they are such great dry cleaners, there are lots of others who would do a comparable job. It’s not because they have a great price, actually I think I probably pay a bit more because of their location. It’s not convenience since I have the option of having my dry cleaning picked up literally outside my front door and delivered the same way at no additional charge. It is singularly because they know me by name and call me by name every visit.
They have hundreds and likely even thousands of customers and yet have taken the time to learn my name and quite likely the names of hundreds of other clients. I actually look forward to going through their drive through and getting a warm hello. You don’t get that at the self serve station, you won’t likely get it at the grocery store, and even in most department stores while they may ask your name and use it for that visit, they won’t remember your name when you return.
Being recognized by my name in a world that is so high tech and so low touch, makes me feel special. The other day I tweeted to a friend and used her name, she commented on it, it is so rare. I used a friend’s name in a recent text asking for a favor, he came back very graciously and agreed to the request. Was it because I used his name? I don’t know, but I do know that I felt better, warmer, more thoughtful using his name.
If you have a hard time remembering names like I do. There are a couple of nifty tricks that can really help:
Repeat the person’s name back to them when you’ve been introduced. “John, it’s a pleasure to meet you.” Then use their name at least three times in the following conversation, each time you’ll notice their attention will spark when they hear their name.
If this is a business connection, look them up online, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIN. Reach out to them, take a minute (really this isn’t time consuming) and connect with them. Seeing their face (another reason you want to have a CURRENT photo) and name together can cement it for you.
Sometimes you can associate their name with a characteristic of theirs or with a feature like Betty the Blonde or Bob with Blue Eyes.
If you forget their name, don’t try to fake it (that never works), instead simply say something like “Oops, I’m having mental pause, your name again please?”
Your name is precious, notice when someone else has the same name as you that you’ll turn around when someone calls them. Use your customer and client’s name in conversation by phone and face to face. Use their name always in email, try it in text, and even find a warm way to use it on the networks. It will make your business more personal and create a vital bond with your clients and customers that will drive loyalty.
Knowing and using your customers name is a giant leap toward getting them to know, like, and trust you, and that’s just good business.
On a personal note, I’ve never been fond of pet names, you know the one’s . . . baby, sweetheart, honey, babydoll (blech), honeybunch (ich). Honestly I kind of figured that if someone needed to use those it meant they didn’t care enough to use my name or didn’t remember it. (YIKES!)
Tell me of an instance when you’ve had your name used or you’ve remembered someone’s name and it led to more in your life or business.