On Being Extraordinary: Get My Name Right

On Being Extraordinary: Get My Name RightIt’s a new feature, On Being Extraordinary. Today’s installment is fundamental. Then again, most acts of being extraordinary are actually quite simple. This story proves the point.

A lady from Europe reaches out to a North American prospect in hopes of selling her services. She’s had some email communication with the prospect through her assistant. The prospect has forwarded a PDF of some critical information about himself and the company. He’s included all of his contact information, including his name, in the PDF.

A Skype call is scheduled by the professional services firm. The time and Skype ID are included. The email says nothing about whether this Skype call will be video or audio only.

The prospect submits a connection request to the seller. She never asked for the prospects Skype ID.

At the appointed time the prospect is on Skype awaiting the call. Three minutes past the appointed time the seller calls. Immediately, she’s on video. The prospect greets her in a friendly manner, but he hasn’t got his webcam set up so he’s only on audio.

The seller immediately asks him if he’s got video ability. He tells her he wasn’t told this would be a video call. “Well, then can we reschedule?” she asks. She also calls him “William” even though all his prior correspondence says, “Bill.” His name isn’t William. It’s Bill. He decides not to correct her, wondering how long she’ll continue to call him by the wrong name.

She insists he be on video. Irked he accommodates her asking her to stand by while he plugs in a webcam to his desktop computer. Within less than 2 minutes he’s on video.

She doesn’t thank him for the effort, but does continue to call him “William.” She begins asking him questions, including some that are answered in his PDF. More than twice, he prefaces answers with, “As it says in my PDF…”

Do you think it’s going to go well for her?

You’re right. It doesn’t.

Briefly, these are the things she did terribly wrong:

  1. She neglected to give the prospect clear instructions on how the Skype call would go. Rather than asking him to send the Skype connection request, she should have sent him one, proving that she was willing to do the heavy lifting here. Additionally, she never said that it needed to be a video call. Turns out Bill never figured out why it had to be video. She never shared a screen. It was simply the two of them talking to each other. He’d have happily obliged if he had known she wanted a video call.
  2. She was curt, telling him she’d have to reschedule if he couldn’t get video working. Talk about pressure of the moment. Bill should have disconnected the call right then and there, but Bill’s more polite than the seller.
  3. She called him “William” throughout the call, never once calling him by the only name appearing on prior correspondence. Bill was most unhappy about that. “It’s clear she’s not even looked at the documents I’ve sent her,” he said. “She got my name wrong and asked me questions that my document answered.”
  4. Bill hangs up after 20 minutes wondering how the selling company has any business. He’s not buying anything they’re selling.

Now, you wanna know the irony of the whole thing?

The seller’s business is in helping companies build cultures that deliver superior customer experiences.

Yeah, Bill found that pretty funny. I found it…sad.


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