Guest post by Cathenry.
As many are scrambling to adjust to the new now of doing business in this duration of the pandemic, the next lesson learned in the Forbes series (Nine Impactful Customer Service Lessons That Can Change Your Business Approach) is apropos: “You Can Never Be Too Thankful” for the customer.
One way to show this customer appreciation is by using a person’s name. Take the initiative to introduce yourself first then ask for their name in return if they don’t respond. A person’s name is the greatest connection to their identity and individuality. Some might say it is the most important word in the world to that person.
Dale Carnegie is credited for saying “A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Who of us has not been impressed when the wait staff at a restaurant recognizes a customer by name and even better, remembers their favorite coffee or beverage?
I am not good at remembering names, so I have my work cut out for me. One mnemonic technique I came up with was counting on the fact that people are creatures of habit, usually sitting in the same places at meetings. This way to remember names was working for me! I was new in a position, right before the pandemic’s rise, and started to learn names with this seating layout in my mind. Then the pandemic hit and no more meetings.
In our current flux of a stop-start of gatherings, the mask coverings, encouraged for health safety for self as well as others, further exasperated my recognition of folks and name association. I’m back to devising ways to learn and remember names.
I try and make a practice at the end of my conversations, when speaking to a new customer, to say again who I am so they know who they are talking to and can refer back to me. That puts the onus on me to make sure and do a good job of relating to and helping the customer because now I am identifiable by name. They can, either for good or bad, report back my performance or how I made them feel.
If it’s an in-person contact, I am old school about handing out business cards. Yes, even though our phones are a click away from each other and can transfer contact data in a flash, don’t assume everyone is savvy enough – or wants – to manage such digital features.
It bears reminding that there is something about the physical touchpoint of holding a business card that reminds someone of who you and your company are. If I especially want to follow up with someone, I grab one of my business cards writing their name on it, and the association that name has for my reference/recall. Eventually, the info is committed to a digital device. Then I make sure it’s backed up.
Recently a leader in my organization lost her phone, which she relied on to her hold all aspects of her professional (and private) life. She was so busy recording contacts, calendar dates, notes, etc., she failed to back up!
I still use a white paper planner, with a printed list of key contacts to serve as one more reminder prompt. It is my equivalent of I.C.E. (In.Case.of.Emergency), the code you can put after those contacts in your phone for first responders to recognize should the need be.
I recently read that as humans we are less focused on the probability of something happening and more on the negative outcome. I have set a goal to err on the side of being proactive about preventing the probability of something happening (like forgetting a name or worse not being able to make an introduction because I have) than having to be reactive to the negative outcome.
Hopefully one of the mental epiphanies that have come out of recent world events is the appreciation of customers, not to mention services rendered by people in general. Author Stephen King reminds us to not let the sun go down without saying thank you to someone, and without admitting to yourself that absolutely no one gets to this point on their own.
This is the fifth in a series of posts. Read all posts here.
Cathenry has operated a boutique bed and breakfast enterprise in her home since 2014. Her business goal is to give guests a positive and memorable customer service-driven bed and breakfast experience. She always has gravitated to businesses demonstrating sound professional ethics, clear communication, and successful customer service. Having known customer service advocate Mark Lusky for more than 11 years, collaborating as a guest blogger is a natural outgrowth of their association.
Drawing on her extensive hospitality, hosting, event planning and customer outreach experience, Cat brings to the table unique perspectives and insights that expand the gravitas of this customer service-driven blog. She also brings to bear intense curiosity stemming from serving as a former reporter, teacher, and organizational coach with certified training.
As research and curating of information have long been Cat passions, she also will offer the perspectives and insights of third-party subject matter experts in the field of customer service as part of her guest blogger contributions.