I finished reading Hello, My Name Is Scott the other day and I think his experience and theory are pretty valid. I’ve worked enough in different retail industries to acknowledge and understand level of impact as something simple as a nametag can have.
I think the most obvious and most recent experience I had with nametags was during the summer before my senior year of college. Having zero restaurant industry experience, I made a conscious decision to work at one to get me through the summer while I took summer school. I’ve heard how insanely rough working as a server could be because of extreme physical, emotional and stress demands the nature of the job requires (I believed them after working at a steakhouse), but it didn’t stop me. At the time I was more interested in understanding how a restaurant operated. Anyway, until about two weeks into the job, every employee in the restaurant was required to wear a spiffy coppery magnetic nametag. It was nothing out of the ordinary. Once in awhile, after I had given my introductory steakhouse spiel, I received “thanks” followed by my name. I didn’t really notice when someone didn’t acknowledge me by my name, but it definitely stood out when they did. I have to admit, like Scott said in his book, it made you feel a little more appreciated – which by the way is a sure approach of getting you extraordinary service from your server. I also noticed that when I had conversations with various customers, most likely than not, it all started because of my name. I’ve received comments from people singing the Lou Bega’s, Mambo No.5 song to me “…a little bit of Monica in my life” all the way to referring to the Monica Lewinsky ordeal. Surprise, surprise!
Let’s just say I had some pretty interesting conversations. However, by the third week, our managers notified us that we were NOT to wear our nametags anymore because of restaurant policies. I asked why, but no one could give me a satisfying answer. It didn’t take very long to realize that the number of conversations I had with people dropped and when people needed to talk to me, I was referred to as the Asian girl. Eh. Even to this day I’m curious as to why the nametags got abolished. A lot of people took notice to it (and by people I’m referring to customers). Oh well.I think that Scott was right in saying that the nametag acts as a type of social icebreaker and in most situations, that’s all you need to make new friends. Kudos Scott! for being gutsy and so dedicated to your philanthropic steps towards making a friendlier society!