“Are you talking to me?”

A few years ago, I was contracted by a client to conduct some sales training in Hong Kong. Getting there involved flying from Toronto to San Francisco via Air Canada, and then, after a 4-hour layover, going on to Hong Kong with Singapore Airlines. The 4-hour layover wasn’t going to be so bad since I was flying Business Class, and had access to the Singapore Airlines airport lounge.

I made my way to the lounge, and was greeted by a charming lady with a wonderful smile.

“Welcome to Singapore Airlines, Mr. Pick. Please help yourself to the refreshments. My name is Linda, and if there’s anything else you need, please let me know.”

I thanked her and went into the lounge. There were all of four people in there, so I had the run of the place for a while. As the time drew closer to my flight, though, the lounge was filling up, and by the time I left, there must have been about 150 people in there.

As I passed the reception desk, Linda was talking to another passenger, but after I had made my way a few steps past her, I heard her say: “Thank you for using our lounge, Mr. Pick, and have a wonderful flight.”

I took another couple of steps before it dawned on me. She had just called me by name. I stopped in my tracks and headed back to the reception desk.

“Excuse me – are you talking to me? Did you just call me by name?”

With a worried look, she asked: “Why? Did I get it wrong?”

“No. In fact you got it right.”

“Oh thank goodness,” she said with a relieved smile.

“Wait a minute,” I said. “There must be over a hundred people in there. Do you remember all of their names?”

Linda looked down and checked her list.

“A hundred and thirty seven to be exact – actually a hundred and thirty six now that you’re leaving. And yes, I try to remember all of their names.” She leaned forward conspiratorially and whispered: “Of course, I don’t get them all. Some of them I can’t even pronounce, but I do try and remember them all.”

“That’s remarkable,” I exclaimed. And even though I thought I knew the answer, I asked anyway: “Do you mind me asking why?”

“Oh – because it makes them feel good,” she replied, with a look that said “Why else would I do it?”

And it did. I felt like a king at that point – or at the very least, a prince!

“And how does it make you feel, Linda?” I asked.

“Wonderful. Who wouldn’t want to make other people feel good? Not everyone notices or cares, but when someone does, like you, I feel very proud to be of service.”

“That’s fantastic,” I said over my shoulder as I turned to walk away. “It’s a pleasure to have met you, Linda.”

“You too, Mr. Smith.”

I looked back at her in surprise, but she had a huge grin on her face. “Got you! Have a great flight, Mr. Pick.”

Remembering a person’s name is one of the ultimate compliments you can pay to them, and I walked away with an extra spring in my step and a warm feeling inside from my encounter with this remarkable person.

The moral to this story is that customers are not just looking for solutions to their needs; they are also looking to feel good about their experience in doing business with you. Do whatever you can to help people feel good about doing business with you, and you will generate more loyal and satisfied customers.

Try it – it works!

By the way, Hong Kong was amazing. I have to admit I was not looking forward to the trip. I’d heard the place was hot, humid, and crowded. My previous experience of Chinese food was of the Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls variety, and being a finicky eater, I was certain I would not like the food. A couple of weeks before the trip, I was whining about it to my family. My daughter, who was 13 at the time, looked at me and said:

“You know what, Dad? You’re looking at this trip all wrong. You should look at it as an adventure, not a chore. How lucky are you? You get to travel to amazing places, meet lots of different and interesting people, and you get paid for it!”

She was right, of course (smart girl, my daughter!). From that moment forward, I resolved to enjoy the experience as much as I possibly could. It was mind-blowing. Hong Kong is an incredible place, the people were the most hospitable I have met anywhere in the world, the food was fantastic, and the training was a resounding success. Definitely one of my most memorable trips, business or pleasure.

2 thoughts on ““Are you talking to me?”

  1. Nice story you got there, Derrick. I agree that we all love to be called by our names. It’s basic customer service in the world of sales. And that was nice and sweet of your daughter to let you realize your blessings. Indeed, children see the world differently than adults do .

    • Hi Antoine,
      Thanks for your comments (and for the comment on the “Smelly socks!”). You’re right – my mother used to tell me: “Count your blessings every day.” Sometimes we need to be reminded of that!

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