Call Center Purgatory <$BlogRSDURL$>
Call Center Purgatory
Saturday, November 19, 2005
  Say My Name-Just Not All The Time!

To say that we have become a casual culture here in the United States is putting it mildly. Most business is always done on a first name basis. Its become very rare to hear people referred to as Mr. or Ms. anymore.

There's really nothing wrong with a little distance between people. I still think we should not have to act like everyone is our best friend. Some of us like a little privacy. Some of us don't want to know your hopes and dreams and the name of your pet Chinchilla, thank you very much! I like addressing my customers as Sir or ma'am. I like saying Mr. or Mrs. I think people still like that. There should be some arenas in life where people don't try to act like your equal, where they treat you with a little deference. I'll just say it plainly, everyone should get their ass kissed just a little now and then! Not over the top, but just enough to put a little swagger back in their step.

Somewhere along the line, some positive-motivation-Dale-Carnegie-wannabe has put it into some people's heads that if you want to get good customer service, you need to repeat the first name of the person you are dealing with several times. Now that's a good practice in theory, but there are always those socially inept putzes that will take it too far.

This week I had a guy call me who repeated my first name once, sometimes twice in every sentence! I am not making this up! It was the telephone equivalent of a close talker that asked you personal questions about your love life.

It just felt creepy. Like he was some kind of stalker.

Here's a good rule of thumb, if you have a long conversation with someone on the phone, say their name twice, not more than three times. It's good that people remember you, but don't make them shudder after they hang up the phone!

Thanks for reading,


Anonymous Cog

As a customer agent many years ago, we were told we could call the customer either by first name or last name. On one call, I chose to call the woman by her first name. She yelled, "Don't call me by my first name! That's so rude!" and she continued ranting on about me calling her by her first name. Needless to say, I never made THAT mistake again. From then on It was always "Mr." or "Ms"
and "Sir" "Ma'am". It really freaked me out that SHE was so freaked out! Now as an older and wiser person I can see the conversational etiquette in being more formal until invited by the other person to address them in a less formal manner. Good article.
Hey, as a Call Center Manager who worked his way up through the ranks, I can definitely say your posts sound like things I could be posting. Hang in there, it eventually gets better.
I don't know... I never really gave this much thought. I don't think I have ever been on a call where the caller repeated my first name several times.

Since I am Level 2 support in my call center, my callers only hear my name once (because I make callbacks) and that's it. They only get my name again if they ask for it (which many of them do).

Perhaps we, as people, could try to be a little more formal, but that could alienate others possibly.

Keep on keepin' on, AC.

Rev. Dubya
I remember reading about this in a call center publication a few years ago. The gist of it was that people like to hear their own names, so it's a good practice to address the customer by name. In real life though, there's a difference between using the customer's name respectfuly and using it to get their attention. I've monitored calls where the agent was saying "Sir! Sir! Sir!" over and over trying to get an angry caller to shut up. Needless to say it had the opposite effect. It brought to mind the image of my ex-husband squirting lighter fluid on a campfire. Poor guy didn't have eyebrows for months.

My workplace guideline is to use the customers name in conversation once or twice, but never at the start of a sentence and it's always their last name NEVER their first name.

Unless it's a last name that has no vowels...I still have trouble with those.
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