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Old 11-04-2010, 02:24 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Strangers calling you by name

One of the things Ruby Tuesday is pushing right now is getting the guest's name and then using it to "personalize the experience." Not just straight up asking, "hey, what's your name?" but if they give you a personalized coupon, or pay by credit card, somehow incorporating their name into the farewell. "Thanks for coming in, tonight, Mr. Jones."

I have never liked doing this, and stick to "sir" or "ma'am." Besides the fact that I feel uncomfortable doing so in a serving situation, it kind of creeps me out when I'm on the other side, and my server uses my name (or if anyone I'm not on regular speaking terms uses my name, for that matter.)

What do you think? Are you flattered when someone uses your name in this situation, or does it feel kinda creepy?
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Old 11-04-2010, 02:31 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I lucked out and got a dual-purpose name, and if I ever have kids I will try to give them one too. It's one that can be shortened, like Jessica to Jess, Ezekiel to Zeke, Michael to Mike, etc.

I'm thankful for it, because if anyone pulls this nonsense you're talking about, they call me by the longer one, which I've reserved as a "formal" name I introduce myself with and that I use for work and professional relationships. Anyone who is on a "first name basis", anyone who is actually my friend, uses the shorter one. By this token, it's immediately obvious to my brain what kind of person I'm talking to.

That said, I hate this sort of policy still. False closeness really upsets people, and they used to ask me to do this when I was telemarketing. Each call I had the person's name and address, and they asked me to call, saying something like "Dave?" The person would think I was a friend or something, and then get really upset when I offered to save them money on long distance by switching to MCI over AT&T.

Add to that mistakes in pronunciation or bad data. For example, everytime I check out at Safeway I just use my parents phone number - I rarely go to Safeway, and I figure any points can go to them. So everytime, they read the receipt and say "Thank you, Mr. <My Mom's Last Name>". It's jarring.

I've read stories about people who use 876-5309 at Safeway, and someone has registered that number. The greeter says "Thank you, Mr. Tutone."
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Old 11-04-2010, 02:37 PM   #3 (permalink)
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i appreciate the fact that the servers at places we frequent talk to us by name, rather than "sir" or "ma'am." a lot of the hostesses and servers at our favorite places are students at the high school where i sub-teach, and it's refreshing to know that they remember me by name...
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Old 11-04-2010, 03:23 PM   #4 (permalink)
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If I want my server to know my name, I'll tell them.
We introduce ourselves frequently at nicer restaurants.
When we want to be left alone for whatever reason,
we don't.
I don't think we'd give our actual names to a host/ess
that asked for them, honestly.
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Old 11-04-2010, 03:28 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Of all the things in the world for me to get bothered over, what my server at a restaurant chooses to call me isn't one of them.

I still feel a little odd when people call me sir, even though it's getting more common now. In the back side of my twenties I guess I don't get to pass for a young 'un anymore.

I never get carded these days either.
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Old 11-04-2010, 04:17 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Eh to me it really depends on the customer and if I can decipher their name easily or not. Older then me by a good amount I tend to go the sir/mam route, but if they feel about my age or younger I feel awkward calling them that. I have to get their last names for signature clarifications, but otherwise I try to stick to first names with my customers. I see the same people day in and day out so I like it to feel less mechanical even though at the end of the day its all business.
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Old 11-04-2010, 04:56 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Wow, a lot of great points here. My position is, if I want you to know me by name, I will tell you my name. If I want you to call me by first name, I will ask you to do so. I won't be mad otherwise, but in reality, I would prefer not to act more personal than we truly are. If I don't know you yet, and you are just my retail hookup to food, just bring it at the right time, take my money, leave me alone, and I will reward you.

I treat people in exactly the reverse, or same depending on how you look at it. I don't use sir, or ma'am either. It rarely seems appropriate. A simple "Hello," or "Thank you," is perfectly good manners.
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Old 11-04-2010, 05:23 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Jinn View Post
Add to that mistakes in pronunciation or bad data. For example, everytime I check out at Safeway I just use my parents phone number - I rarely go to Safeway, and I figure any points can go to them. So everytime, they read the receipt and say "Thank you, Mr. <My Mom's Last Name>". It's jarring.

I've read stories about people who use 876-5309 at Safeway, and someone has registered that number. The greeter says "Thank you, Mr. Tutone."
Hah.

Yeah, Safeway is the one place where this happens to me, and I don't care for it. If I wanted you to know my name, I would tell it to you.
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Old 11-04-2010, 05:39 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I dislike it when somebody I don't know uses my name. There are a couple restaurants that I go to frequently that use my name, but that's because they know me. The local Dutch Bros. Coffee knows my name, again I used to be there a lot.

If I'm not a regular customer, and you wish to make me one, DON'T freakin use my name until I do become one.
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Old 11-04-2010, 06:22 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by snowy View Post
Hah.

Yeah, Safeway is the one place where this happens to me, and I don't care for it. If I wanted you to know my name, I would tell it to you.
And if I wanted the next person in line to know my name, I would tell them instead of having you say it out loud. I work in retail, and I never call a person by name unless they are wearing a name tag. Except for one regular, that is.
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Old 11-04-2010, 08:05 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I'll add a vote for 'low care factor'. I'm not a 'sir' (unless the knighthood is in the mail) and I'm pretty sure my wife would not like being a 'maam'. I don't see the issue with being called "Mr Jones", except for the 'Jones' part
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Old 11-04-2010, 08:28 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I'm not all that put off unless someone I don't know uses my first name. I'm a bit less put off if I already know their first name. For example, if they are wearing a name tag or introduced themselves, such as in the case of wait staff, "Hello, my name is John, and I will be your server this evening."

If "John" hands me my credit card back and calls me by my first name, I'm cool with that, because, hey, it's John, not "some guy."

I'm completely fine with people calling me "Mr. [Surname]." It doesn't matter whether I offered them my surname or whether I know theirs. They're using the "Mister" honorific and my surname, which happens to be my family name. Since I'm seldom with family members, I tend to be the only one with my surname in any given place, so there's that as well.

No one can ever go wrong with calling me "Mr. [Surname]." I suppose "sir" works fine, but it's less personal. I guess it's better to use the latter if I'm being addressed a number of times over a short period.
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Old 11-04-2010, 08:53 PM   #13 (permalink)
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It doesn't really bother me in the least, but I always get a chuckle out of businesses doing stuff like that as though its supposed to matter or something. Am I supposed to leave Ruby Tuesdays thinking "gosh the food was good but using my name just puts them over the top! I think I made a new friend and I'm totally coming back tomorrow for a visit!". Truth be told I'd probably just wander off having not noticed/cared how they addressed me.
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Old 11-04-2010, 11:23 PM   #14 (permalink)
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If I know the person outside of their workplace, I don't mind someone calling me by name. Honestly though, I don't go out to restaurants or stores to make friends-I go there to get something. I'm still very pleasant and will chat if waitstaff engage me, I just don't want to get too personal with people I don't know.
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Old 11-05-2010, 04:07 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I will tell you that if you can connect with a client / customer and you both get the comfort to use a name, by using it you will more likely get a bond and they will want to use you. I rarely like being talked to formally I kind of feel like my dad is Mr. G, not me.


I worked in sales in real estate, I can tell you I know doctors who write notes about your family so they can ask about them when you come in, anything to personalize your experience with your client, will forge the bond tighter. If your client is a sports fan, comment on their team. I will also say that some of my former clients are now my friends.

I recently was doing a mystery shopper at HSBC to check out their investment accounts. One of the things they wanted me to check was if the hsbc agent used my name at least, preferably twice in that time. Mine did 4 times and by the way he knew his stuff and was amazing I wanted to use his services but sadly I can not now.

I also give my first name to my waiter and give a little banter and try to bond, and I do not mind them calling me that. I think by doing this I forge the bond the other way and hopefully I get good service, and good advice on what is good that day etc… Being friendly in most situations in a service oriented business will help you.
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Old 11-05-2010, 04:21 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Cicling back to what was posted in the OP, I have waiters thank me by name all the time after a meal. As long as they get it right (and my last name's a 50/50 of pronuciation), I don't care. I've had severers call me Mr. [Jazz], which just makes me laugh.

This has been a practice in high-end restaurants for a long time, at least in Chicago. And there are waiters in those restaurants that used my name on my credit card to get to know me (I'm looking at you Jeffrey at Tavern on Rush - thanks for that tasty [and comped] Lobster Diablo the other day). It's a nice touch when you're out with clients since it makes you look like these guys know you and think highly of you.
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Old 11-05-2010, 05:23 AM   #17 (permalink)
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If it's sincere, I don't mind at all. I used to work for a company that required us to use someone's name at least 3 times in the call. We had all the person's information in front of us and it was an inbound call center. In those instances I feel its a sign you're paying attention to the person on the phone instead of being a robot.

I think a look and smile of recognition and remembering something I mentioned I liked/or ordered goes much further with me than glancing at something I've given you that has my name on it.
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Old 11-05-2010, 05:55 AM   #18 (permalink)
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I used to get a little weirded out when someone would address me as Mr. [Surname] but as I get older, it bothers me less. The age gap being a little wider now...
In general, it doesn't bother me at all how formal or informal people are with me in customer service situations. The only time it bugs me is when I am getting the run around because they always seem to ramp up the name thing when that happens.
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Old 11-05-2010, 06:06 AM   #19 (permalink)
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I don't find it creepy or offensive, but it certainly doesn't make me feel special when someone calls me by first name since I go by my middle name (I use my first name on my credit cards, bills, etc.). It simply alerts me to the fact that this person doesn't really know me all that well. When I was a cashier at a grocery store we were asked to do this, but I never did. Between possibility of mispronunciation, people like me who don't use their first name, and the fake feeling of familiarity, it's just a dumb idea, IMO.
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Old 11-05-2010, 06:12 AM   #20 (permalink)
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If I don't know you, let's not pretend that you do.

If I hand you a credit card for payment, "Thank you, Mr. Lastname" is fine.
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Old 11-05-2010, 06:23 AM   #21 (permalink)
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The best way to make a good impression on someone is to remember their name. I find it extremely disrespectful to forget names because it comes across like you're not memorable enough to even know their name. I like when places call me by my name because it shows that they at least give some what of a shit. Workers at restaurants typically act like they hate their jobs and don't care about their performance, but when an employee calls you by your name, it shows that they care about their job at least a teeny bit which is extremely refreshing.

Next time you meet someone new, the 2nd time you see them, see if they call you by your name. If they don't, notice how you feel. If they do, you WILL notice how you feel.
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Old 11-05-2010, 06:58 AM   #22 (permalink)
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It's really rather easy with me. In any business setting I am Mr. O'Rights, or Sir, unless I tell you otherwise. If I go to Ruby Tuesday's, and CinnamonGirl says "Thanks for coming in, tonight, Mr. O'Rights.", I'm fine with that. It denotes an appreciation for my patronage, coupled with a measure of respect. If I am a regular, and CG knows that I like my coffee kept topped off throughout my meal and that I take neither cream nor sugar, then I will tell her her to just call me Bill.

Telemarketers that call me by either "William" or "Bill" can just go straight to hell.

On the other end of the spectrum, due to the current economic climate I had to take a position at Walmart. I wear a name badge that clearly says "Bill". I just absolutely looove when people lean in real close (like the letters aren't big enough to be seen from 50' away) and pointedly use my name in an effort to get special, or personized, service. "Well,..."Bill"...I've been coming in here since this store opened. I feel that I should be able to [fill in the blank]". Said in a tone that almost conveys a veiled threat. As if, "I've got your name, Bud. Now give me what I want".
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Old 11-05-2010, 07:29 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Some people have brought up other situations where it's fine to use a name, and one of them for me is when I go into my local credit union. I'm in there every week or so depositing something, and it's a small branch. My old RA is one of the tellers. By now, I've come to expect that they'll call me by my first name.
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Old 11-05-2010, 07:47 AM   #24 (permalink)
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I have no issues with a waiter/waitress using my first name or last name or a combination of both.
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Old 11-05-2010, 09:10 AM   #25 (permalink)
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It kind of startled me when one day the bank teller called me by name when I pulled up to the drive through (prior to me putting my deposit in the drawer). I kind of looked at her funny and said "how do you know my name", she simply stated well you're a customer here and you come through every week. Doh! I felt dumb for being uncomfortable with it, of course she would know my name, she's supposed to know my name, it's her job to make me feel like our transactions are personal and not robotic... but it made me feel weird. I didn't invite her in, I didn't look at her name tag and say hello to her calling her by name.

But if you're a server, or a bank teller, or a grocery store checker... someone with a name tag. Does it make you uncomfortable if we call you by name? When my youngest was small and just learning to read she would talk to the store checkers and call them by name. She would say thank you Susie, or hi John, as if she knew them. A couple of them did a double take, wondering if they knew her until it dawned on them or I pointed out their name tag.

I suppose the real answer is going to be "everyone is different", how our brains work and what is ok for one and not the other is interesting stuff.
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Old 11-05-2010, 09:43 AM   #26 (permalink)
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I like being called by name when it proves that the caller, in whatever manner, has been paying attention. As a requirement of service is another thing which, if you're not comfortable doing so, I'd say 'sir' or 'ma'am' works better for all concerned.
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Old 11-05-2010, 09:59 AM   #27 (permalink)
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It kind of startled me when one day the bank teller called me by name when I pulled up to the drive through (prior to me putting my deposit in the drawer).
I used to work at a bank as well...it was a smaller branch, with nearly the same people coming in every day. I'd greet the friendly ones by name, the standoffish ones, not so much. I'm also more likely to appreciate the tellers knowing my name at a bank--after all, they're taking care of my money, and they have all my info already (social, license number, address, phone number, etc.)


Quote:
Originally Posted by LaLa1 View Post
But if you're a server, or a bank teller, or a grocery store checker... someone with a name tag. Does it make you uncomfortable if we call you by name?
We don't have to wear a nametag at Ruby's, which I like. Every other serving job, though, I had to wear one. I didn't mind so much unless someone OVERused my name: "Cinn, can I get some more water? Thanks, Cinn." I also had a nickname on my nametag for a couple days...I realized quickly that people I'd never met using such a familiar form of my name made me intensely uncomfortable, and I changed back to my full name after a couple shifts.
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Old 11-05-2010, 10:35 AM   #28 (permalink)
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We don't have to wear a nametag at Ruby's, which I like. Every other serving job, though, I had to wear one. I didn't mind so much unless someone OVERused my name: "Cinn, can I get some more water? Thanks, Cinn." I also had a nickname on my nametag for a couple days...I realized quickly that people I'd never met using such a familiar form of my name made me intensely uncomfortable, and I changed back to my full name after a couple shifts.
When I was younger I was a server at a place that was popular at bar rush, Beth's café home of the 12 egg omelet. We didn't wear name tags either, although most of the customers knew me by name. The late nighters were more of a biker rough and tumble sort, or drunk from stumbling in from the bar. The name they called me by was usually some form of baby, or honey, or sweet cheeks. I didn't let it bother me, simply because well it was bar rush, they were drunk, and if they had any money left at all they were usually pretty good tippers. I did however correct them when "hey baby" was followed by a proposal or a request to sit on their lap. That's when I reminded them I wasn't their baby, I was their server and could i get them some more coffee. :P
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Old 11-05-2010, 12:18 PM   #29 (permalink)
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I don't like to be called my name unless there is a previous relationship. Right now I'm evaluating some bankers ability to sell me services and I have to pay attention to if they call me by name at least once. Since I'm doing it covertly I don't use my real name and I have to remember when they say my name I'm actually hearing the fake one. It's a bit weird.

I actually prefer the formal appellation. Mr. Cynthetiq works very well, if you're going to use my name at all.
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Old 11-05-2010, 01:35 PM   #30 (permalink)
 
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When disingenuous bill collector little snakes pretend to be a friend...yeah it rankles.
Same with anyone wanting something by being fake chirpy nice & manipulative.

Same with the overly familiar use of WE. That's forced teaming & a whole 'nother subject.

I used to attend training seminars on how to use this type of language.
By refusing to say: " How are we doing tonight?" to customers,
I was fired, for saying: "Hello, how are you doing this evening?"
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Old 11-05-2010, 04:05 PM   #31 (permalink)
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...but it certainly doesn't make me feel special when someone calls me by first name since I go by my middle name (I use my first name on my credit cards, bills, etc.). It simply alerts me to the fact that this person doesn't really know me all that well....
Plus one on this! Just about anyone who knows me socially, professionally, even casually through friends calls me Lindy, which is a diminutive of my surname. My given name is Sophia, which I've hated since I was a little girl. It's on official stuff, like my plastic, my checks, driver's license, library card, etc. If you must address me by name, Ms. Lind***** is OK, but if you call me Sophia you've already got two strikes and a rubber bat.
My aversion to flying means that I drive across the country several times a year on a fairly regular route on Interstates 90, 80, 70 and a few others. I have regular gas stations, hotels, restaurants, and have accounts in a couple of small town banks. In those situations, it's nice to be called by name, or to see that spark of recognition even if they don't remember my name. But pleeease don't call me Sophia.

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Old 11-05-2010, 06:20 PM   #32 (permalink)
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i use the customers name every day during my job. Except i try to use it more than necessary. it's certainly a fne balance between familirarity and uncormfortability.
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