[setting the scene] …
Customer Rep: Hello, thank you for calling ABC Company.
Me: I need support with my services.
CR: Sure thing, I am a happy to assist you. May I have your name please?
Me: Of course, it’s Carla Harris
CR: Thank you Carla.
Me: Sir, please refer to me as Ms. Harris!
I must be old school because I was always taught that customer service representatives, salespeople, business people should address clients by Mr. or Ms. unless they have been given permission to use their first name. In today’s service environment, it’s very rare that a service representative will refer to a client or customer as Mr. or Ms. We are not friends! I am your client and until I have given you permission, please address me appropriately. What causes this level of too-personal interaction?
Very Casual Society – In today’s society, the millennials have been conditioned to think that everyone is a friend. In some homes, parents are referred to by their first names! Egad! According to CallCentre.com, we should “get over the formality!” They say that using the first name personalizes the call. Well that just depends on who you are talking to. If you are talking to a baby-boomer, they are sometimes offended by the use of their first name if there is a belief that you are young enough to be their grandchild. If the goal is not to offend anyone, callers should stick to asking if it’s okay to use their first name – “Do you mind if I call you Carla?” or “Do you prefer Ms. Harris or Carla?” Let the customer or client decide. Additionally, if you are in a face-to-face client/provider or subordinate/supervisor role, when the client or boss tells you to call them by their first name, you are considered more in the inner circle. Don’t rush it.
Say My Name – The contrary to using first name versus last name is to not be called by any name! You know…a rose by any other…well, you get it! In the world of business using a client’s name is paramount! It means you want to do business with him or her. According to the comments from the article on SocialMediaToday, readers want their names used. One reader, however, said she felt ‘intruded upon when someone used her first name.’
Kim, Kym or Kem - When in doubt, ask? In today’s world, Kim is not spelled as simply as before. If you are not sure how someone’s name is spelled, ask them. They will be more than happy to make sure you get it right.
Customer service levels should not be ‘trendy’. Providing service is classic and should only get better with time. Business has much more competition today than in days past; clients and customers have more choices and many times the make or break decision can be the level of service they’ve been provided. So, go ahead, ask… “Do you prefer Jim or Mr. Smith?” … it may be the difference between a yes and a no.