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WHAT’S IN A NAME?

By: L. Azar

If you’re considering opening a bank account anytime soon, do it at TD Bank.

No, I’m not some writer-cum-TD sales agent trying to sway you with a TD banking sales pitch. I am just a simple woman who likes decent customer service.

This past Tuesday night (at 11:13 PM, to be precise), I phoned TD Bank in a tizzy. I could not find my debit card anywhere and thought it prudent to cancel it ASAP. After following what felt like hundreds of prompts, I eventually got through to a live representative (a miracle in itself). I was in a pretty high-strung state, but the way I was greeted calmed me instantly.

“Hello, TD Bank! How can I make your day better today?”

Now, remember, I was calling to cancel a card that could have by then been wiped clean of funds. I’d envisioned disaster but, in just moments, my heart warmed. I began to look towards a positive future.

It only got better. Kin, the customer service representative, asked me my name, and then proceeded to use it at every opportunity.

“Alright, Leah, how may I help you?”

“Leah, we’ll have that card closed for you right away.”

“Is there anything else I can do for you today, Leah?”

And so on.

Now, this is not an isolated occurrence; this is how events unfold every time I call TD Bank. TD trains their employees well. Kin was calm and collected. She was patient and reassuring. She addressed me by name and actually seemed bothered that my card was lost. As if she hadn’t already been through a long day with tens of other scatterbrained callers who’d also misplaced their cards.

In any case, I hung up feeling like my day (or the half hour that was left of it) really was better. With my mind at ease, I remembered an important lesson: always address people by name, as Kin did with me. You can make people’s day better with that one simple gesture. Try it; see how they perk up faster, stand up straighter, smile wider. Writer and lecturer Dale Carnegie once said, “A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

What is the magic behind this name-calling phenomenon?

I’m no expert, but here is my humble theory: A name, though intangible, is a personal and precious possession. You carry your name with you from birth, and it stays with you permanently. Your name accompanies you when you eat, sleep, work, take a shower or wait on hold with customer service. Therefore, when someone addresses you by that very name, he or she is connecting with you on a deep and personal level, that acknowledgement feels good. We all appreciate being recognized for who we are.

Just for good measure, I spoke with four more TD customer service representatives about their legendary service. Their unanimous responses to “What motivates you to convey such empathy to your customers?” astounded me. Perhaps I should’ve expected this level of decency, since TD Bank’s customer service slogan is “Banking Human,” but it’s so rare to encounter nowadays. Surprising though it is, their representatives do care. Each one mentioned wholeheartedly that they don’t treat their work as a job, but as a means of helping people. True, they admitted, TD instructs its staff to address their customers by name, but it’s something they would do even without being told. The customer service reps see each caller an individual. “Mr. Jones is not Mrs. Winters,” explained one representative. 

Imagine that! These representatives care deeply about perfect strangers, simple women like me. Even better, they convey that sentiment effortlessly over the phone.

Learn the TD Bank lesson. Address people by name more frequently and focus on them completely. By doing so, you’ll show the people in your life that you care about them on a singular level.

And if you ever feel like you need a pick-me-up, call TD Bank. They’ll be sure to find a way to “make your day better today.”