Names can be tough to remember! Especially when you hear so many new names every day.
Chester Santos ‘The International Man of Memory’, famously said, ‘When you can remember somebody’s name, it shows them that they are important to you’. When James Kent and I walked into the bar of the Sheraton Hotel at the Mall of Emirates in Dubai in October 2016 we were both impressed with the hotel host. He was an Egyptian gentleman by the name of Abdou Hassan Gharby. As we entered the bar, Abdou shook our hands and made good eye contact. With a warm smile, he said ‘Hello Mr. James and Mr. Oisín, Welcome back. It’s so nice to see you again’. We were both amazed because we were only ever there once before and that was the previous June when we stayed at the hotel for a few nights on a work assignment. Abdou makes it his business to know everybody’s name and to welcome them.
The power of learning, knowing and addressing your clients by name in business has many positive outcomes, such as repeat business, familiarity, good rapport and respect. The customer sees the business representative is attentive and listening, creating confidence between both parties. It becomes easier to address shortcomings and sing praises. This is equally essential for colleagues as it is for staff. This is how you create culture. This is a good place to begin. There is the old saying in the world of commerce: ‘It’s not personal, it’s business’. For me, this is not true. All good business is personal and that a personal touch starts and finishes with a name. Your client will either know your name or you will know their name. Firstly, it’s up to you to start. Introduce yourself to your customers by means of nametags, verbally introduce yourself and in turn, ask the client their name. Write it down if you have to.
When I was in Doha City Centre shopping mall in Qatar, in March 2017, I went to the cinema to see Kong: Skull Island. I arrived early so I decided to grab a quick coffee in Caribou Coffee. I noticed that all of the staff wore hand-written badges that stated their name and which coffee they loved: ‘I’m Alex and I love Americano’. A name provides familiarity and friendliness. Two weeks later, I found myself in Times Square Shopping Centre in Dubai and I recognised the same branded coffee house. Because of my positive experience in Doha, I was drawn to get a take away there and, of course, noticed that all the friendly staff had their nametag and favourite coffee badge. When you learn somebody’s name and a little something about them you build trust. This trust is the base of any relationship, business or otherwise.
Starbucks is famous for asking the customers their name and writing it on the coffee cups. Each and every time I’m in my local Starbucks in Eyre Square Shopping Centre back in Galway, Ireland I’m always struck by how the staff ask for my name when taking my order and call me by name when my order is ready. No surprise that some of the staff remember my name and order when I go there.
If you are in an office and communicating by phone always introduce yourself by name first and then the company. ‘Good morning, my name is Joe and I’m ringing you from The Print Company’. You are at an advantage in the office as you can write the name down. If you are not in an office you can carry a notebook or record it on your phone. If you don’t know how to spell a name, just ask them. ‘Let me write that down. Can you give me the correct spelling of your name?’
Depending on how busy you are, you might think it’s not easy to remember so many names. Some simple techniques to help you remember is to say the client’s name back to them a few times within the conversation. Here are a few hacks for remembering people’s names:
Commit to remembering names
• Write down their name(s)
• Repeat the name in the conversation
• For complex names ask the person to spell their name
• Associate the name with a visual
• Focus on the person in front of you
• Be 100% in the conversation
• At the end of your day go back over all the people you met
Mr Abdou from the Sheraton Hotel made it his business to remember the names of James Kent and I. He created a bond resulting in repeat business. What the staff in Caribou Coffee, Starbucks and the Sheridan Hotel have in common is people that nurture great culture.
Culture is an established ingredient in customer service. And, for good reason.
Taken from The ‘Binman’s Guide to Amazing Customer Service’ by Oisin Browne, which can be ordered on Amazon Kindle today. It is stocked in Charlie Byrne’s in Galway, Hana’s Bookshop in Dublin, and O’Mahony’s bookshop in Limerick.