When The Temperature Rises, It Pays To Know Your Customer’s Name


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My friend Steve recently approached me after reading some of our posts on dealing with difficult customers and had advice for me from his very unique perspective.  Steve is an umpire working his way up through little league, high school and rec league baseball in hopes of honing his craft and being called up to the big leagues.  As customer service representatives, I think we can all agree that we often have it easy compared to the heat a baseball umpire takes.  Could you imagine taking a support call and if you mess up, having 40,000 people booing at you?  Yikes!

I digress.  So Steve came up to me the other day and told me that his most important tactic for diffusing a heated situation is learning the names of the head coaches.  When the time comes for the coach to argue a call with the ump, Steve immediately calls them by name as they approach him and asks “What do you have for me today?”

Calling the coach by name humanizes them, builds a connection and helps both sides work toward a resolution.  Steve did tell me that he didn’t get the assistant coach’s name and when that guy came to argue in a recent game, it didn’t go so well and he eventually ejected the coach from the game.

We have talked at length in the past about the importance of learning the names of your customers.  At Phone.com, we require our customer service representatives to learn the customer’s name and then use it at least twice throughout the call.  We don’t do this because we like making up rules.  On the contrary, this tells our customers they are important to us.  They are not just units or dollar signs, they are people!  Try this out for yourself.  As my friend Steve pointed out, calling your customer by name may very well diffuse an otherwise heated situation.

Jeremy Watkin
Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Support and CX at NumberBarn. He has more than 20 years of experience as a contact center professional leading highly engaged customer service teams. Jeremy is frequently recognized as a thought leader for his writing and speaking on a variety of topics including quality management, outsourcing, customer experience, contact center technology, and more. When not working he's spending quality time with his wife Alicia and their three boys, running with his dog, or dreaming of native trout rising for a size 16 elk hair caddis.


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