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"What's in a name..."

A few days ago, I received another sales email from yet another software company. Usually I try to be cordial and reply to these emails (though recently with the amount of emails I get it’s hard to keep up) saying I am not interested. I admit, my response to these emails changes depending on the emotional level I am in at that moment. So, I received an email from this company and the first two words read:

”Hey Arun!...”

Now, I know my name is not common in the US but still….I mean…COME ON!!! Didn’t bother to read the rest of it of course and ignored it. Then, a few days later, a follow up from the same sender:

“Hey Arun….”. AGAIN!!

I decided to reply this time to let her know I am not interested and for future reference she should at the very least use my actual name.

That got me thinking. And when I get thinking, a post on my blog is born. So here goes…

At first, I felt the need to go crazy here about the importance of spelling your customer’s name correctly but then, a very dear friend reminded me of the profound quote used by Juliet – “What’s in a name”. So, I looked it up. Juliet claims that her family loathes Romeo’s family merely based on their name but the name itself does not really change the person for what he/she really is. A rose will smell the same even if we called it something else asserts Juliet. So why did I get so offended when this sales lady referred to me as Arun? Was it because she made me feel so unimportant? Was it because I felt she simply wasn’t paying enough attention? Maybe because I felt I was merely another email address on her mailing list? Whatever it was, I realized it is me who needs to change my view and not try to correct hers. After all, if I really needed what she was offering I would have let it slide and would have found the (subtle) way to correct her mistake. Innocent mistake. But then it got me thinking….some more. How about the company’s name? Our customer’s work of place name? Those who are paying our salary’s name. Should we pay more attention to the company’s name versus the individual, personal names?

A few years ago, while working for a technology company, one of our customers was a very large travel agency. One day, in the midst of the implementation, I got “summoned” into one of the director’s office. As I sat down, he handed me a report. A report we produced for him. On the top left was the name of the company.



I looked up from the report only to meet his gazing look drilling through my eyes saying something like – is this what we are paying you for? Is this the level of service we should expect where you cannot even spell my employer’s name correctly? His pain at that moment was so profound that I am now truly questioning Juliet’s theory. I felt his pain, his insult and ever since, I am that much more sensitive to my customers’ names. Yes, their personal names as well but even more, their company’s name. After all, this name is not really a name. It is not HIS name. It is a name he represents. It is a symbol, a value, a statement and if you modify it, even slightly, you damage these values, these statements and therefore, harm the basic essence of your customer and what he/she represents.

"Whats' in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet" William Shakespeare

I believe that with the advancement of technology, use of abbreviations while texting, the data overflow, we tend to be more forgiving. More forgiving when the computer freezes as we are setting up for a presentation, more forgiving when a call is dropped using our cell phones and more forgiving when someone misspells our names. However, when it comes to the name of the company, our customers, it is my opinion we should still hold on to it. Hold on to its values, its essence and spell it right.

So Juliet, Hey La…….That’s in a name!

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