During a recent, four-night cruise to celebrate my mother’s 90th birthday, I was reminded about the power of personalization and greeting customers by their first name. Not long after embarking, my brother and I met our cabin attendant, Jerry, a personable fellow who said he makes it a point to meet each passenger in his block of rooms.
He introduced himself and went over some ship and cabin protocols. During the brief interaction, he made a point of learning both of our first names. I didn’t think much about it initially, but in the afternoon the following day, I ran into Jerry in the hallway outside our cabin, and he greeted me by name. I was duly impressed, even though I had engaged with him more than my brother did.
On the third night of the cruise, my brother mentioned that he had been greeted by Jerry earlier that day and that the attendant had remembered his name. He was taken aback by this because their only interaction had been for a few seconds. This also impressed me because, as I understand it, it’s not unusual for cabin attendants to be responsible for two-dozen rooms or more.
If that’s true, Jerry likely met upward of 50 people the first evening of the cruise. For him to instantly recall our names during random interactions is a special skill. It’s also a tremendous piece of customer service. Yes, there are techniques people use to improve their instant and short-term recall, but that doesn’t diminish the impact personalization can have on customers.
In my experience as a consumer, few things impress me more than a service provider who calls me by name without referring to a computer screen or printed invoice. Everyone likes to be made to feel special, and enthusiastically saying someone’s name as they walk in the door or pass by you in a walkway is a tremendous ego boost.
It also resonates positively about the business you work for. Whether company policy or not, personal greetings give the impression that the employee cares about each customer and that the brand is invested in superior service. These are key building blocks to loyalty and referrals.
As the self-storage industry continues its transition to more remote environments, I can’t help but think personalization might lose favor to all the contactless conveniences coveted by today’s consumers. In the long run, it might be a worthy tradeoff financially, but when possible, maintaining these human elements can really resonate and provide value. Self-storage managers—whether appearing remotely onscreen, via the phone or in a brief meet up on site—would do well to emulate Jerry and others like him.
As part of sales training, it’s not unusual to instruct employees to interject the customer’s name when addressing them directly or answering a specific question. That’s a wise tactic for many of the same reasons mentioned here. However, nothing says you value someone’s business more than being able to mention them by name during an unexpected encounter.
Kudos to Jerry and all self-storage managers who use this artful superpower to elevate their service, make each customer feel superior and positively impact the bottom line.