Where nobody knows your name

Remember the bar on the TV show ‘Cheers‘ where everyone knew your name? It was a warm, inviting place where the regulars shuffled in, plopped down on bar stools and regaled one another with the day’s events. Woody, Coach, Sam and the others knew the customers’ names and life stories, and seemingly picked up on conversations from weeks earlier in mid-sentence. It was a good and funny show and, in its own way, indicative of how great customer service can enhance a brand’s name and reputation.

Now, fast forward to the present and the Lincroft Inn, which is literally right down the street from me and where my wife and I have been dining at the bar/restaurant for years. When we walk in, we always say, ‘Hey Virgil, Hi Micki, Hi Rhonda, etc.’ We even have our own nickname for the manager, a somber looking matron we call ‘the stern taskmaster.’

Anyway, in nine years of frequenting the Inn, do you think any of the employees have even once said, ‘Hey Steve, Hey Angie: How are Chris and Catharine doing?’ or ‘Sorry to hear about Pepper. What a bummer. Drinks are on us tonight,’ or even ‘Hey Steve: a Grgich Hills chard?’ But, nada. Nothing.

We once mentioned this phenomenon to a new bartender who, upon hearing our cheerless ‘Cheers’ tale, swore he would remember our names each and every time we returned. He didn’t.

If the place wasn’t so conveniently located, we’d have stopped going long ago because well, nobody knows our names. It’s a small detail to be sure. But, the best organizations, the best executives and, certainly the best politicians (Clinton was an absolute whiz at this) remember people’s names.

Maybe the next time I drop in on the Inn, I’ll give the lead bartender a boxed dvd set of ‘Cheers.’ Wonder if he’ll get the message?

4 thoughts on “Where nobody knows your name

  1. When we were teenagers there was a diner about 10 minutes away from us called the “Timeless Diner.” We went every Wednesday night when we were 16 and always requested the same waiter. Pretty soon when we walked in, the hostess would bring us to a table in his section and didn’t bother with menus, since she knew that we knew what we were going to order. Our waiter would bring our drinks before he came over. Even the owner had nicknames for us and would ask how we were. The food wasn’t great and a lot of the other waitresses I had there were sub-par, but we always went back. Since our waiter left and we left for college we haven’t been in, there’s no reason anymore. I’m always looking for another restaurant that can become my new “Timeless Diner.”

  2. That’s amazing. It does seem, though, that far too many restaurants (and other businesses for that matter) don’t do enough to make a personal connection with good customers. I travel quite a bit and in each city that I visit frequently I have spent time to find my own personal “Cheers” and it makes a big difference.

  3. I have to agree with you. It’s pretty sad that after nine years they still don’t call you by name. I think it just reflects the kind of world we live in today. It’s not as personal as it used to be. Handshakes and meaningful conversation are replaced by text messaging and multi-tasking. Who has time to remember your name? Just give/get the info I need and move on. That seems to be the mentality.