My name is not “ma’am”

Perhaps it’s simply a pet peeve of mine. Perhaps I’m simply uber-sensitive. But, I would rather be called by my name (or “princess”) instead of “ma’am.” That’s because my name is one of the sweetest sounds to my ears.

My clients often ask me how they can better connect with their customers. I always tell them to use the customer’s name. Most people love to hear their name. It makes them feel important and special. And since customer satisfaction is driven by human relationships, what better way to start that relationship than by using their name.thCACFEFGO

Real world story:  Recently, I checked into a hotel that I frequent on business trips. The man who checked me in was pleasant. Not over the top nice, but pleasant. Since my hands were full, I couldn’t carry the free goodies I had with me back to my room. So, I needed to come back for them. When I returned to the front desk, less than five minutes later, the front desk employee — the same man who had just checked me in – said, “Hello Ma’am.” I replied, “Hello, I just checked in…” He abruptly interjected, “I know. I just checked you in.” How was I to know that he remembered me? Especially when he called me ma’am instead of my name. For goodness sakes!

People want to feel special. People want to feel important. People want to feel remembered. What better way to elicit these feelings in people than by using their name. People who connect with these feelings will come back to us, so they can continue to feel and connect with these feelings. This is how we get extremely loyal customers. How cool is that?

Strategies that Turn it Around:

  1. At the first possible opportunity after greeting a customer, get her name and then use it immediately. For example: “May I have your name please?” Sure. Barbara Khozam. “Hi Mrs. Khozam. How may I help you today?”
  2. It’s usually best to start with Mr. or Mrs. last name. It’s easier to progress through a conversation from formal to informal than it is vice versa. However, if you have any doubt how to address a customer, simply ask – “What do you prefer I call you?”
  3. If you don’t know how to pronounce a first or last name, always ask first. For example, I sometimes say, “That’s a very unique name. How do I correctly pronounce it?” People with complex names know they are complex and are accustomed to people mis-pronouncing them. AND people with hard-to-pronounce names usually have shorter, easier nicknames that they will offer you.
  4. Aim for using a customer’s name at least twice in every conversation.

Remember: The sweetest sound to most people’s ears is the sound of their own name. So, get it, use it, and feel the connection (and profits) grow.

How do you feel when people use YOUR name? Share your stories in the comment section below.

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