I heard a story recently that resonated deeply with me. During school, a student was given a pop quiz. She was a pretty smart student and had got through the other questions quite easily until she read the last one: “What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?” She imagined this to be some kind of joke. But when she thought about it, she realized she had seen the cleaning woman many times. She was short, dark-haired and in her 60’s, but how would she know her name? she didn’t. She handed in her paper, and just left the last question blank. Just before she left she asked the teacher if the last question would count towards their grade. “Absolutely,” said the professor. “No matter what career you choose in life, you will meet many people. All of them are important. They deserve your attention and care, even if just by a smile and greeting.
She’s never forgotten that lesson. She also learned the woman’s name was Clara.
Online, it is not as easy to obtain first names as it is in person but at least we have a better way to store them when our memories fail.
The professor was right, in fact. As it turns out, our names are so important to us that hearing them lights up an entirely different part of our brain than any other words, scientists tell us.
Using your customer’s name makes them like you more, also using your own name makes the interaction feel more personal, too.
For example, who would you rather get an email from, “John” or “The Support Team”?
Personal names make a shopping experience much more enjoyable as does hanging out with people who know your name in real life, it just feels more respectful, more engaging and friendly.
Firstly, when sending emails, avoid the lazy trap of ‘Dear Customer’ …. Use their first name, which you will get from a very simple autoresponder set-up and a free copy of your (insert product).
If customers call you, try and use their name in the first sentence as an instant rapport builder. This is especially helpful in calming an irate customer quite quickly by seeming more authentic and familiar. For some of you, when booking a callback, arranging a meeting or getting people to leave their names and numbers, ensure you have their names written in your diary on that date and any other bits of information you can get in that first interaction. Then when you recall accurately the words of the last conversation you had with them or ask them a more familiar question using their name, you instantly make the customer feel like you know them and so they relax with you.
And the same advice on the ground, create stories or rhymes in your head associated with the person’s name you want to remember and genuinely try to use it when you bump into them. It’s a great way to build connections and friends on the ground that may one day be useful to your company or idea, on or offline.
People like their name being used, that’s evident, and it will be a testimony to you and your efforts if you remember that fact and get just better at being personal.
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