The Name Game
By George Anderson
A recent Consummate Consumer column in the Washington Post says shoppers in the D.C. area are less than happy about stores that have cashiers thank club and credit card customers by name as part of company policy.
Many consumers, it seems, would prefer to remain anonymous and do not want their name being said out loud in the store.
Some see the practice as an invasion of privacy. Others see it as adding time to the checkout process, especially when the cashier struggles to come up with the right pronunciation of a customer’s name.
The security aspect of the issue, it turns out, is very real.
One reader wrote that in Hilton Head, S.C., a woman who shopped at a store was addressed by name. When she got home she received a call from a person who said he was the store manager. The woman was asked for her credit card number to re-run the order because of a computer error. The woman gave her information and the thief was off and running.
“It’s a familiar scenario,” confirms Debbie Szpanka, spokeswoman for the Beaufort County sheriff’s office in Hilton Head.
Safeway is one of the companies that wants its cashiers to address customers by name.
“It is one of the ways we are providing superior customer service,” said Greg Ten Eyck, director of public affairs for the company’s eastern division. “We’ve had it in place since the early 1990s. We have 1,800 stores throughout the U.S. and Canada and very rarely do we hear any consumers express that they don’t like it.”
Paul McAdam, senior managing director of research at BAI, said that the majority of consumers do not want to be addressed by name. In a survey of 3,700 banking customers, “only 23 percent responded favorably” to being addressed by name by tellers.
Moderator’s Comment: Is the practice of addressing shoppers by name at the checkout good customer service or something considerably less desirable? What
are best in class stores doing to provide their customers with superior customer service? –
George Anderson – Moderator