Technology alone won’t grow your business, but stronger, more personal relationships with your customers will.
Why Names Are Important
In a study published in Brain Research magazine, certain parts of our brain light up when we hear our own name. Not when we hear other’s names. Only our own.
Recalling and integrating your customer’s name into a conversation is very important for a few reasons.
1. Names are unique identifiers. Dale Carnegie said it best, “A person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.” According to the brain research mentioned earlier, hearing our names lights up different parts of our brand that no other words do. Our names prompt specific and unique responses in our minds that are powerful associations for anyone to use. Everyone responds to being known by name.
2. Brings you back into the conversation. If you’re actively listening to your customer, the best way to get back into the conversation is by using his or her name. Because people respond so strongly to hearing their name, you’ll get your customer’s full attention and they’ll tend to listen more closely to your thoughts and ideas. It’s a much smoother way of integrating yourself back into the conversation.
3. People tend to like you more. We all want to be known. A great way to convey that feeling of being known is to consistently use someone’s name in conversation. It makes your words more personal and is interpreted as being caring and empathetic. Naturally using your customer’s name will build strong bonds that are hard to break.
4. You’ll appear more competent. A lot of people struggle to remember names, and you appear more competent in your customer’s eyes if you can remember their name easily and correctly. First impressions mean a great deal, and it demonstrates that you take them and their business seriously when you use their name.
5. Helps to build loyalty. I have a favorite Japanese restaurant that I frequent because the staff know me by name. There are restaurants closer to my home that might have better food, but I still frequent this one restaurant because of their personal treatment. Using a person’s name makes them feel important and validated, strong feelings you want your customer to feel during any interaction.
It All Starts with A Name
If you are a small business owner, then you know the power of your customer’s name. Your very first customer was probably somebody you knew. Your most regular customers are people with whom you’ve developed a rapport with, if not a genuine personal relationship. Your customers are 5 times more likely to stay with you because of their relationship with you, than they are to try a new alternative, even if that alternative is far cheaper.
At the heart of customer loyalty, is an emotional connection with your organization. A feeling of personal trust in you and your staff. In effect, all the people in your organization, taken collectively, is the organic “soul” of your business that drives business culture, and ultimately customer loyalty.
Scaling Personal Relationships
We all know, however, that as a business grows, it becomes increasingly challenging to maintain a collective culture that can cultivate an emotional connection between your customers and your brand. Hiring the right people, training staff, and putting processes in place are all things that help develop the right organization culture that manifests in excellent customer service.
The Power of A Name
One of the biggest things you can do to improve customer service, is to encourage staff to interact personally with your customers. Managers in the hospitality sector already know the value of knowing each guest, their history with the organization, as well as their personal preferences. Hospitality managers are literally in the business of delivering “personalization as a product”. And people love it!
Now, imagine, how much better your customer experience could be if you borrowed just a sliver of that hospitality mindset into your business.
Here’s a quick quiz for you:
- Does your staff remember the names of your frequent customers?
- Does your staff use your customers’’ names when interacting with them?
- Do your staff know that referring to your customers by their names increases tips?
Personalization matters. In a survey of more that 3,000 adult consumers in the U.S. and UK by digital marketing agency AgilOne, over 70% of customers expect a personalized experience when they walk in the door. Newer generations, such as millennials, take a personalized experience for granted.
Training Staff to Use Names
The best loyalty program in the world cannot replace authentic personal relationships between your customers and the people who represent your business. The good news is that you can make incredible progress in developing a culture of personalized service by starting with your customer’s name.
With the Flex Rewards loyalty system, we’ve focused a lot of attention not just on creating a great loyalty program, but also giving staff the information they need in order to deliver better, more personalized service. On every interaction with the Flex Rewards app, your customer’s name is displayed to staff, so they can quickly learn who your regulars are, and ascertain how valuable each customer is to your business. Displaying the names of your customers to staff members on a regular basis quickly breeds a sense of familiarity, and ultimately leads to stronger genuine relationships with your staff.