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The Importance of Names

Written on:November 1, 2011
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Hello, Your Name Is___

Can You Remember Client's Names?

Remember the television show Cheers? The theme song talked about a place where you could go and everybody there knew your name. In the hustle and bustle of running a business, it is easy to go about work and not really get to know the clients. Whether you are an author, meeting thousands of fans a year, or you run a small diner in your town, or you manage a mega corporation, taking the time to get to know your customers can go a long way toward providing an excellent customer service experience.

Remember names is an area I sometimes struggle with. If I meet a single person at a time, I can easily remember that name and important facts. It is simpler to take the time to get to know one person. However, put me in a room filled with people, and I can barely remember one name. I’ve even forgotten the name of someone who has the same first name as me.

The Dale Carnegie course I took last year taught some interesting techniques for remembering names. I’ve been trying to perfect these techniques a bit and get better at remembering names. I know that people who remember my name and something about me are people that I’m drawn to. I want to be that type of person. As a business owner or manager, you should want this, too. If a customer feels drawn to you and genuinely likes you, then that customer is more likely to be loyal to your business.

  • Really look at the person whose name you’d like to learn. Don’t just look at their clothes or their hair. These things can and do change. Look at their face, the color of their eyes, any distinguishing characteristics. Of course, don’t be creepy about observing them. That will have the opposite effect of making them feel at home.
  • As you greet them, repeat their full name. Saying the name out loud sometimes helps me remember it better.
  • Try to associate their name with something. For example, if I meet a woman named Jill, I picture her skipping up the hill next to her husband with a pail. Then, I picture her tumbling down after him. This is what I use. You can use whatever works for you.
  • Ask questions. Ask about the person’s family, where they are originally from and what their hobbies are. Let them talk and spend most of the time listening.
  • Try to add whatever is unique about that person to your association of their name. Each person has some unique, God-given quality if you will just take the time to find it. Let’s say that Jill enjoys baking. I might picture her skipping up that hill with her pail and the pail is filled with cupcakes. As she falls, the cupcakes tumble out onto the ground.

Why does this technique work? The next time I see Jill, I again imagine her skipping up the hill with a pail and I know that she is named Jill. The cupcakes remind me that she enjoys baking. I can now say, “Hi, Jill. How have you been? What goodies have you baked this week?”

A word of caution, though. You have to be genuinely interested in your customers. They will sense if you are not and instead of feeling welcomed they may feel as though you are trying to manipulate them. Learning the names of your customers will go a long way toward their satisfaction with your company and will also encourage them to recommend you to others.

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