Know Their Name

Know Their Name

By your host, J. Jeff Kober

There’s something powerful about learning the names of your customers, and more importantly, getting to know them. This came to my attention when one day when we had George Miliotes talk to one of our business groups about best practices in world-class companies. George, along with chef Cliff Pleau, co-founded Disney’s California Grill, and George was its first general manager from 1994 up until 2002, when he and Cliff left to create Seasons 52 for Darden Restaurants. He has helped create two incredibly popular restaurant experiences–something few people get to do. So George knows what it takes to make a restaurant succeed. George talked one day about the fact that in the restaurants he managed, he easily knew the names of some 1000 of his top customers. He also knew the names of all of his employees. I can’t help thinking that knowing the names of your guests makes a difference in the success of your organization.

Know Their Name
George Miliotes, co-founder of Disney’s California Grill, and now Master Sommelier for Darden’s Restaurants. Photo by Darden’s Restaurants.

We’re big these days around the empirical data that goes behind knowing your customers. But there’s nothing that substitutes knowing them up close and personal. Do you know their name? Do you know something about them? Some businesses have to of course, deal with scale. Every day, Disney parks has tens of thousands coming through. But making them feel like they are known is an experience that can’t be replaced.

And by the way, when you take the time to know them, they will know and remember you. And the foundation of customer loyalty is that they know you, and remember you. Here’s a unique twist on that idea. From a friend and colleague, David Zanolla, comes a story of someone everyone knows–Peter Pan:

“While we were meeting with Peter Pan at the end of a tour given at The Magic Kingdom, he told the boys they should come and visit him when he was taking pictures in Fantasyland later that afternoon. Well, I had forgotten about it, but the boys hadn’t when we came upon Peter doing a meet ‘n’ greet later later in the day. We got to the front of the line, he remembered both boys’ names and asked if they had ended up going on the rides they said they would. Then to top it all off, he asked if we had time to wait around. When he was done meeting other guests, he took the boys by the hand and skipped through Fantasyland with them on the way to try and pull out the sword in the stone. The looks on the other peoples’ faces were priceless as Peter Pan was playing with our two boys in the middle of the Magic Kingdom.”

Know Their Name
Even if Peter doesn’t quite have the magic to pull the Sword in the Stone, he surely can create a memorable experience any lost boy will remember. Photo by David Zanolla.

Then, about two years later, we’re watching the 3:00 parade and they started yelling, “Peter Pan! Peter Pan!” They had seen him many times after our previous experience, but they knew there was something different about him this time. Sure enough, it was their friend Peter Pan. It blew me away that, two years later, they remembered his face that clearly.”

Remember Their Name
Peter Pan and the entire gang from Neverland head down Main Street in The Festival of Fantasy Parade. Photo by J. Jeff Kober

Know their name. To know their name is a simple, no-cost opportunity. Just know their name–and use it! And when it comes to employees, know their name as well. It’s a great foundation for building customers that last a lifetime.

1 thought on “Know Their Name

  1. I work as a Greeter at The Main Entrant Plaza At Disneyland. When each guest comes thru my turnstyle I call them by their name. It is easy and quick. Even when difficult names are presented I get compliments as you said my name correctly. You are the first person that has . Even when you are not perfect they appreciate your attempt. Everyone likes to be welcome and using their name acheives that goal.

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