Photo by Jurgen Tesch
Wherefore art thou Jim?

You’ve heard it before, and you probably know it to be true from personal experience: People love hearing their names. As a businessperson, using your customers’ names is a not-to-be-missed opportunity—it’s an incredibly easy way to show you care.

Here are three ways to use a customer’s name to create a connection:

  • Say it! Ask your receptionist to screen and announce calls when transferring them to you, so you’re able to greet current clients with exuberance (“Hello, Mary! It’s so wonderful to hear from you! How have you been?”) and wow potential clients from the get-go (“Hi, Tom! Thank you for calling! My name is Phoebe. How may I help you today?“). When you’re expecting a client in the office, let your team know, and encourage them to address your guest by name. The staff at my dentist’s office is great at this — any time I stop by for an appointment, I’m greeted with a friendly “Hi, Phoebe!” by everyone I interact with. This simple show of warmth and friendliness makes me feel great, even when I know I’m about to get a filling. That says a lot!
  • Write it. Sending a client a handwritten, hand-addressed notecard is an easy but powerful way to show you care. Always begin emails with a greeting that includes your client’s name, and skip generic greetings like “Dear Customer.” Be sure to triple-check your spelling when writing a customer’s name, as a misspelled name is likely to cause offense.
  • Search for it. Is your customer a business owner? Use the Internet to search for the business by name. You might find a website or Facebook page for the business, both of which can help you get to know your customer better. Or perhaps an Internet search will reveal that the business has received recent press for an achievement  — what a great opportunity to send a congratulatory card or gift! Maybe your client has a web presence of her own — let’s say she’s a food blogger in her spare time. Read her recent posts before your next meeting, and make a point of chatting about them with her. Sure, you don’t want to drudge up embarrassing old yearbook photos, but doing a bit of Internet investigation about a client’s company or interests can help you find excellent opportunities to connect.