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Sorry, what is your name?

Messages that arrive with the wrong salutation easily occur. It is so very easy for a mistake to be made when entering the details into the CRM system. The task is often delegated to a relatively lowly person who is expected to work fast, with little money and no motivation. It is a recipe for disaster. Rectifying mistakes seems even harder. Clearly it is necessary that someone identifies and reports the error.

We may be annoyed by someone getting our name wrong but most of us are too busy to bother notifying the mistake. We simply remonstrate to whoever will listen – "They can't even get my name right!".

So much for getting the written word wrong. It feels even worse when the wrong name is spoken. We've all been in a situation where we have been introduced to someone and in conversation mangled their name. Maybe we misheard it, maybe we thought we heard it but got it wrong. And then there are the embarrassing situations when we get the wrong name and goddammit, we keep repeating it.

The reason this matters is because our names are so important to us. They are our calling card. They represent us to the world. We have had our names for all of our lives and they are our identity. It is through our names that we engage with people. We know they are important and it is why we wish a hole would swallow us up when we get one wrong.

Mind you, you can over-use someone's name. If every sentence you utter is prefaced with their name, it stops being a normal conversation. In fact, it sounds overbearing and condescending. It is the sort of thing that the pushy salesman uses following a training course in which they are told the importance of using someone's name.

Rather than give our words of wisdom for how to remember someone’s name we have turned to Doctor Andrew Budson who writes in Psychology Today. He recommends five steps:

Step 1: Pay attention (that make sense).

Step 2: Repeat the name back to the person aloud. When they say "Hi, I'm Nick", you say "It's nice to meet you Nick".

Step 3: Make an association with the person's name including something that is meaningful to you (Nick could be associated with St Nicholas, known for his generosity and kindness).

Step 4: Form a mental image of your association and the person in front of you. (Imagine Nick dressed up as Father Christmas).

Step 5: Find something in the person's appearance that will help you remember their name. (If Nick has a beard, that may be a good link with Father Christmas).

As with nearly everything to do with customer experience, this isn’t rocket science. A small amount of effort remembering someone's name will create better relationships and the recipient will feel they are important and respected. But do remember to get it right.


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