A Warm Reception Turns Into Personalized Customer Service

Paula, a receptionist, decided to add her name when she answered the phone. "Good Morning, XYZ Industries, this is Paula."

For the first time in her nine years, said Paula, customers responded by calling her by name . . . and then offering their names, "Hello there, Paula. This is Jonathan Price. I'm calling to check on my order."

"Thank you, Mr. Price, I'll connect you to Marie Smith."

"But then," Paula said, "something different happened to my feeling about that call. I was more careful to come back to my Mr. Price if Marie hadn't picked up within 30 seconds. When I came back on the line to ask if he wanted to hold longer, Mr. Price called me Paula when he thanked me.

"I now felt more ownership of this customer. If I thought Marie was more likely to respond to voice mail, I went back to Mr. Price and recommended that he leave a voice message. If I thought she might respond more quickly to my page, I paged her. Mr. Prince would say, 'You must know her habits pretty well.' I said, 'Well, I've been here for nine years.' 'That's a long time, is that your hometown?' he asked. We chatted while he waited.

"When Marie passed by my desk, I'd ask: 'Did you talk with Jonathan Price?' If she said no, I'd light a fire under her to call him.

"Suddenly, Jonathan Price had become my customer as well as my company's. I like that feeling. I feel I'm getting to know these customers a bit, even though we'll never meet.

"And it all started when I simply introduced myself with one little word. My amazing name."

(Paula is pictured in the center above wearing sunglasses.)