I believe in addressing service workers by name. Why? These workers (servers, valets, desk clerks, retail cashiers, maintenance workers, housekeepers, flight attendants, and others) are doing vital tasks mostly anonymously. Many customers in the ongoing quest for holiday gifts, basic groceries, quick meals, and family vacations, inadvertently look “through” service workers—sometimes viewing these professionals as human cash registers or even as “furniture” (not unlike the “female furniture” in the movie Soylent Green !)
Friends have made fun of me for years for the practice of calling service people by name, laughing at me when I smile and say, “Zelda, we are checking in this afternoon” or “That was a wonderful complimentary hotel breakfast, Marcus” or “Thanks for the shuttle to the airport, Don.”
It is really amazing the service quality one gets upon treating people as people! I have received personal phone calls regarding new sale items from Sandy at the Lacoste counter at Macy’s. I was upgraded free to a corner suite overlooking the Bellagio fountains by John at the Paris Las Vegas. I was moved to a beach-front, incredible-view room at the Westin in St. Maarten by Kayson when my room’s toilet wouldn’t work. I am personally greeted as “amiga” by my server Maribel at Los Bravos. I am graciously brought only the bread I like at the bar at Biaggi’s by Spencer, Brennan, or Maria since they know my preferences. I have received a wrapped gift box of spa products with a card thanking me for my patience from Dave the HVAC maintenance man who fixed my room’s heater at 1 o’clock in the morning at the Westin in Hilton Head.
Not only that…I know that Sandy at Macy’s understands caring for a parent’s illness. I know that Maribel of Los Bravos is learning English, likes dancing, and has teenage children. I know that Spencer at Biaggi’s is working an internship for a local property management company. I know that Maria is considering graduate school in Louisville or Nashville. I know that Brennan just moved here from Nevada and has a degree in forest fire fighting. Special treatment is definitely NOT why I call these employees by name. THESE ARE PEOPLE, NOT HUMAN CASH REGISTERS!
Humans love the sound of their own names; as a matter of fact, even though as a former Marketing professor, I KNOW that when I call a resort hotel where I have stayed before, their caller ID triggers a computer program which pulls up my past stays and spending habits, but I still love to have the phone answered with “Ms. Wiltsie, the Professor from Indiana” EVERYTIME I call a particular hotel in Las Vegas.
Creating a small connection with hard-working people to make THEIR day a little more pleasant is well worth the extra second it takes to personally address someone by name.
In this country upon meeting someone new, the first question posed is “what is your name?” and the second question asked is “and what do you do?” A service professional has a name and job title right there on a nametag or polo shirt! So the transition to connectedness is easy!
I believe that addressing someone by name with a smile is a small sign of respect which we all deserve and can easily deliver.
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