You Want to Go Where Everybody Knows Your Name

How much do you notice when someone uses your name when you are a customer or returning visitor somewhere? Having someone simply remember your name means something to us.

When someone remembers your name, it reinforces a feeling of being valued and worth remembering.

To be fair, I also get that same secure feeling when someone simply says my name correctly. I’ve gotten “Nikki” or “Vicki” ever since I was little. I usually follow up my introductions with, “like the mouse.” Nope, not the most professional image to put in their brain, but you have to admit, it’s memorable.

Here’s the ironic part: I’m not good at remembering names! Or, sometimes I remember their name, but right before I am about to say it, I talk myself out of it. Like if it’s Jim, I’ll say to myself, “Is it Jim? Or was it John? It could be Joe…”

I try the association game, and it can help…but not always.

If we are at a training event or dinner party where people are seated, I write everyone’s names down in a mental visual according to how they’re seated. This has proven to be one of the most helpful tools for me.

I use my age as a crutch, and it has become a ridiculous excuse on occasion. (Disclaimer: This is not a tip to be used, but more of a confession and a lame habit of mine.) When I meet people, I sometimes tell people them that I am over 50 and that I occasionally can’t remember things, if ever. I request permission up front to ask for their name again. Then, when I remember it, they are thrilled and surprised. I know. It’s weak, but so far it’s working for me, and I would appreciate you not bursting my name memory bubble. 

It’s also OK to say to someone, “I’m sorry, your name has just slipped my mind! I’m [insert name here] in case you have forgotten mine.” Not only is it a polite admission and request, but you are also helping someone else out that might be feeling the same way.

One super no-no thing to do (unless you are over the age of 70 and live in the South): Do not call me “Honey,” “Sweetheart,” or “Hun.” These terms actually sound demeaning rather than endearing. This recently happened to me as I was checking out at a store. The young woman who looked like she was in college continuously called me “honey” as I was paying. I wanted to ask her when she had earned the right to address me with such a term of endearment. Yeah, it really bugs me…

I’m a work in progress with this for sure, but the point is that how you address others is a huge part of building relationships in business.

Remembering customers’ and clients’ names is the best thing you can do, but at the very least, always be as respectful as possible.



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