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The science behind name badges by Jurek Leon

There are two questions I am often asked about name badges, one by managers and the other by staff. Managers ask: how do I get my staff to wear their name badges?

And staff ask: why do we have to wear name badges? Should staff wear name badges?

Let’s deal with the second question first. I agree with the wearing of name badges, not just for frontline staff in the public eye, but also for all team members including managers, CEOs and owners of organisations. There should be one rule for everyone.

Some fascinating research backs this up. Jonathan Winchester of mystery shopping organisation, Shopper Anonymous, (found here http://www.shopperanonymous.co.uk), has conducted research in the UK, Australia and New Zealand based on 116 000 measured shopping experiences which identifies that in those organisations where the staff are ‘caught’ wearing a name badge, the overall rating for the customer service experience is 12% higher than in establishments where all the staff aren’t wearing a name badge.

Isn’t that amazing? So, if the customer’s perception of the experience can be influenced so much just by wearing a name badge – do it, just do it! Name badges are also great for customers, suppliers and anyone else who deals with an organisation. Why? They save regular visitors from embarrassment if they have forgotten someone’s name. In businesses where uniforms aren’t worn, name badges help customers to distinguish between the staff and other customers. It can be embarrassing when you mistake a customer for an employee!

If someone knows your name you are no longer ‘Accounts’ or ‘Sales, you are a real person dealing with real people. That’s what customer service is all about, whether internal (with other departments of your organisation) or external. The Law of Reciprocity: If the customer knows your name they are more likely to tell you their name.

It demonstrates that you are not hiding behind anonymity. You are accountable for what you do.

Getting people to wear name badges

When people are employed there should be an itemised list of points that they are expected to adhere to. This will include standard of dress, hygiene and the wearing of name badges. They should initial each individual point on this list to confirm that they have read and understood it, and then sign at the bottom to show that they have agreed to abide by these standards. Sell to staff the benefits of wearing name badges. This means that instead of telling them that from now on they must wear name badges, get them together in small groups and ask them to list the benefits of wearing name badges. If they say it, it’s true and they will most likely come up with some additional points you haven’t thought of.

All senior staff should lead by example. Bosses will often say to me, “I don’t need to wear a badge. Everybody knows me.” I point out that by not wearing a badge the message they are sending out to their team is, “Badges aren’t important,” and even worse, “Badges are only for insignificant people.”

Consider making the badges fun by getting people to create interesting job titles such as ‘Lynne Smith, Service Super Hero’ or ‘Kim Marsh, Director of First Impressions’. In his book Think for Your Customer, John Stanley recommends: “Always get two badges made for each member of your team. Give one badge to the team member and keep the other in the office. Sooner or later someone is going to leave a badge at home. When that occurs, he or she can obtain one from the office by donating a pre-defined and agreed amount to a company charity. In my experience this works exceptionally well.”

I was discussing the various ways of encouraging staff to wear name badges at a conference in the UK for farm shops, cafes and restaurants. One of the ladies attending said that she had introduced an approach recommended to her by Winchester which was proving to be extremely successful. Here’s how it works. She keeps two spare badges – one with ‘Fanny’ and the other with ‘Dick’. If a female staff member forgets her badge she gets to wear the ‘Fanny’ badge. A male member (no pun intended) gets ‘Dick’.

Regular customers have worked out what this is about, so of course when someone does forget their badge there are plenty of humorous comments from colleagues and customers. As a result, staff rarely forget their badge at home! I had about 60 people in attendance at this session, almost all business owners. Much to everyone’s interest and amusement, two other business owners said they had also introduced this system and it was working a treat.

Badge design

Often I see badges being worn that look very classy but are extremely difficult to read, which defeats the whole purpose of the badge. This may be because they have a shiny surface that reflects under artificial light or because there are done in a typeface that is hard to decipher.

Always check out different types and styles of badges in your work environment before you invest in them for all your team. Make the print as large as possible on a background that isn’t reflective. If you have job titles, put them in smaller type than the name.

I love this example from Graham Harvey in his book Seducing the Vigilante Customer – 101 Winning Strategies to Attract and Retain Happy Customers and Healthy Profits. He says: “Even though I sort of half guessed what the answer might be, I went ahead and asked the question anyway. ‘Why do you have Cardiff, Wales written under your name?’ ‘Cardiff is where I was born’, replied the waitress. The conversation then continued for a couple of minutes centring on how long she had been in Australia, why she had left Wales, etc,. She also explained that everybody in the hotel had their birthplace inscribed on their respective name badges and how positive the idea had been in creating conversation between guests and staff.”

Graham Harvey goes on to say that one of the keys to establishing rapport with customers is to develop communication on a first name basis as quickly as possible. The wearing of prominent name badges by all members of staff is one of the quickest ways of achieving this outcome.


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