First or Last? Using A Guest Name

You don’t have to be an expert in customer service to have heard the “customer service rule” that you should be using a guest name in all of your guest during their interaction with you. It’s nice, it’s fluffy, it makes them feel warm inside, and personalizing the experience to name a few things.  Its a great step and guests love it.  Sounds easy right?  Well, like anything that sounds too good to be true, there can be some questions that come up even for something as simple as asking for and using a guest name.

So you pick up and phone and you use your approved greeting, you ask some questions and you are doing everything you need to to perform your organization’s guests service strategy to its finest level.  Then you get to the part in where you have to ask and need to start using a guest name.  Queue the horror music (Duh-duh duh)! What name should you ask them for?  Their first name or their last name? What is the most polite way to address your guest?

You think, this is too complicated, so you say to yourself “let’s just go with sir or ma’am”. Well, that is very polite of you but it not very personalized and it probably doesn’t fall in line with your company’s brand standards in this area.

So let’s make a commitment not to default to the boring and all to easy “sir and ma’am” scenario (This is also not very gender-neutral.) and try a little harder in using a guest name. If you are in the military the sir and ma’am might work for you, but they don’t seem to be providing much guests service training from what I can see. We have some guidelines to help you in using a guest name with ease.

When the guest gives you their first name:

When the guest gives you their first name, you can probably guess what name they would like for you to use when interacting with them. In fact, it is the only choice that you have, so go ahead and use their first name like

“Nice to meet you Sally.”

When the guest gives you their last name:

It’s probably going to be rarer but from time to time, someone will provide you with their last name only. This also provides us with one option that we would be happy to oblige to.

“Thank you so much for your business, Mr. Johnson”

When the guest gives you their full name:

Here is where things get a little complicated in using a guest name, but who says we don’t like a challenge? When a guest provides you with both their first and last name, which one do you use to be appropriate. Well it then will depend on your expert people interactions skills.

If a person is being very casual, laughing and joking with you, it probably means they might have a modern, casual view on guests service. Maybe they are more casual in the way that their receive service and have less formalities. You can call them by their first name if you feel that it would be appropriate based on your conversation with them.

If the guest is being formal, no-jokes, right down to business, it probably means that they have a more structured view on guests service, so perhaps using their last name would be best.

You can also take things into consideration like regional expectations, the generation they grew up in and more in your decision. For example, a traditionalist (those people born between 1900-1945 have Disciple, Respect for Authority and Delayed Reward as some of their core values, so we can probably take away they this generation would probably respect us and maybe even expect us to respect them for their experience and wisdom, we can do this by using their last name.

We also have to think about the cultural values of where our guest is coming from and attempt to make them feel as comfortable as possible. In Japan for example, as a sign of respect, many individual will include “San” has a respectful title placed with someone’s first or last name. W would attempt to match the respect in English by placing Mr. or Ms. and then using the last name.

As a default rule in this area, if you are unsure which way to go, always go with the last name. If the guest would prefer you call them by their first name, then they will go ahead and correct you.

What about if you are calling someone and don’t know which one to use?

When you have to call a guest via the telephone, you have to think back to your last interaction with that guest. If it is someone you remember and you are already using their first name, then stick with that. You don’t want to seem like you are getting more formal. They might think you don’t like them anymore!

If you are unsure or it is your first time calling, then we will stick with our last name default rule to be safe.

Using A Guest Name Do Nots!

There are a couple of don’ts when trying to understand which name to use to keep in mind.

May I get your first and last name please?

First, don’t ask the guest for their first and last name. This is often the question from those of us who would prefer to use their last name. Keep in mind that it is not your preference you are worried about, you are not the paying guests. Asking a specific question will limit the response to the first and last name and then you have to think about what name to use. If you are attempting to understand what they would be more comfortable with, ask questions like:

This way, they can see what answer they provide and make a more intelligent decision towards the right way to address them.

Listen to their requests and follow them!

If they tell you to call them by their first name, then do it. Far too often we have seen examples of a guests requesting one thing and the agent not complying because it doesn’t feel natural to them. Keep in mind that making your guest feel comfortable and providing service in a way they respond too will have the greatest impact on your business and their loyalty towards you.

So, as you can see, it is isn’t so hard to get out there and start using a guest name in your daily customer service interactions. Give it a try and at the end of the day, any type of personalize experience you are attempting to make with your guests will go a long way to having your guests want to ask and use YOUR name, but that is another blog post.

Need some additional resources on using a guest’s name?? Check out this article.

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