The Name Game – Should Call Center Agents Participate?

“Hello, Mr. Smith – how can I help you?”

“Certainly, Mr. Smith, let me take care of that.”

“Before we go, Mr. Smith, is there anything else I can help you with today?”

It’s a decision every call center has to make when creating the script and communication guidelines for agents to use: how much emphasis should be placed on addressing the customer by name?

One of the goals of a call center is to make every customer feel valued. But how can this be achieved on a telephone call with a stranger? The circumstances make it more difficult to establish a rapport than with a face-to-face discussion.

Using the customer’s name is one strategy for creating a friendlier, personal response within a limited timeframe. But if it’s overdone, it can have the opposite effect of seeming artificial and over-scripted.

The best approach may be to advise agents to speak with a customer as they would speak with a friend, referring to them by name as often as they would in that situation.

Once that has been decided another question waits – should agents refer to customers as Mr. or Ms., or address them by their first name?

Traditionally in any business communication using a title denotes respect and professionalism – but we live in a more informal world now.

The most important variable in this scenario is the customer. Some will react more favorably to an agent who says, “Sure, Sandra, let’s get this done.” This is where speech analytics comes into play. By analyzing word usage, tone of voice and previous calls from that same customer, agents can adjust their approach accordingly, and engage with each customer in the manner most likely to deliver a positive result.