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July 28, 2008
There’s Gold In That ‘Thar Name
A tap on the shoulder took my attention away from the deli counter for a moment. The finger belonged to a woman I recognized as another regular shopper at my favorite grocer, where I’d stopped this morning to pick up a few things for dinner with friends.
“I’m just wondering,” she said with a hint of snotty attitude. “Why is it the deli help is so friendly to you? He just gave you an extra bit of cheese for free. I never get anything like that.”
“Oh, it’s easy,” I replied. “I’m on a first-name basis with these folks.”
“How would you know the names of these people?”
“Well, see that little piece of plastic on his shirt? That’s his name tag.”
It’s funny how consumers tend to ignore the obvious and forget the important part they play in the give-and-take of a business transaction. Salespeople float through stores wearing nametags. A waitress says, “My name is Jessica and I’ll be your server tonight.” A customer service rep for an airline answers his phone with “Southwest Airlines, Jorge Figueroa speaking... may I have your name, please?”
Ninety-nine percent of people don’t register the name, because they’re too busy thinking about what it is they want to accomplish. It’s the other one percent, however, that gets most of the gold.
I try to make a point of saying or repeating a salesperson’s name each time I interact with them, even if it’s just to say, “Thank you, Rebecca.” The person I direct my comment to is usually so startled, he or she will ask me how I know their name - even though it’s plastered across their chest. They’re immediately connected to me and because I know their name, they’re on the psychological hook to do their best for me.
It’s gotten me extra cheese, free samples, upgrades on airplanes and remarkable customer service. 
Give it a try the next time you interact with a salesperson - who knows what little “extra” you’ll go home with!

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Michele Miller is a partner in the Wizard of Ads marketing firm, with clients that include Best Buy and Timberland. She is an international speaker and the author of "The Soccer Mom Myth." Her blog on marketing to women, WonderBranding, has won numerous awards and is included on the prestigious “Best of the Web” list compiled by Forbes.com.

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