Customers should have names, not numbers

It has just dawned on me that I have not been addressed by name for two days. On the other hand, I've been many numbers. Here are just a few of my numbers:

  • B55 (Southwest Airlines)
  • "Next" & Space 340 (Hertz)
  • Room 108 (Courtyard, by Marriott)
  • Guest #33 (In-n-Out)
Here's an example at Hertz:

I arrived at the rental counter along with what seemed like every other person to ever rent a car at Hertz. In reality, there were 7 people in line ahead of me along with a customer at each of the four open counters. My wait was longer than expected and I calculated (nerdy, I know) that it took the 4 Hertz counter agents an average of 5 minutes per customer to rent a car. It was slightly more than 20 minutes before I made it to the counter.

"Hi, my name is Sheila!" said Sheila. "Hi Sheila, my name is Jeff." Ahhh, now someone will call me by name, I thought. Well, no. Apparently, Sheila just wanted me to know her name. She did try extra hard to sell me the refueling option and finally told me my car was in space 340.

These situations get me thinking. For example, I can't remember how many times I've had a situation like the one I experienced with Sheila and the person hasn't used my name. Then, when they look up my account, they suddenly exclaim, "How are you today, Mr. Toister?!" Uh, huh.

What the best do...
Service is about a connection between people. The name isn't necessary, but it sure helps and I'd much rather be a name than a number. Customer Service Reps that work for a client of mine overcome this by keeping a list of their most important customers' account numbers. When Mr. Smith calls, Mr. Smith never has to give his account number. The customer service rep looks it up for him, so the formality of a little number never has to get between them.