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

Few major league managers put on a better show when arguing with umpires than the Yankees' Billy Martin.

Few major league managers put on a better show when arguing with umpires than the Yankees’ Billy Martin.

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.


Share this post:

One comment

  • Wow! Go Steve! I hope that he accomplishes this goal!

    I absolutely have to agree with the name thing. It reminds me of the Starbucks post, “Be a sweetheart and remember my name”. It definitely brings a level of human-ness and focus to the service. Nice post, Jer!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *