Are You on a First Name Basis with Your Clients?
In some professions it seems more of the norm, although that may be shifting, for us to address another professional more formally than by first name. The medical profession, for one.
I suspect that in the past it was a rare person who addressed their doctor, and perhaps their dentist, by anything other than Dr. ____. While I don’t think that’s necessarily as true these days, I know the formal title is still often used, particularly with someone you don’t really know.
I call my doctor and my chiropractor by their first names and always have. After all, they call ME by MY first name. Maybe that’s presumptuous.
It doesn’t mean any less respect although I suppose some people, especially someone with a title, might take offense.
But I certainly wouldn’t address the Queen that casually, would you? You would??!!
So I wondered…are you on a first name basis with your clients? Do you address THEM by first name or in a more formal manner, say Mr. ___ or Ms. ___.
Is it a question that comes up in conversation early on, when you might say “How would you like to be addressed” or “May I call you ___?”
Or do you just assume their first name is OK to use, especially if you get a call or voice mail where the caller uses their first name, which seems to be giving permission?
What if the caller says “This is Mr. ____?” Do you then take the lead and use that formality? And does it feel too casual, at a later point, to call them by first name once you know it?
My personal feeling is most people are OK with being addressed more casually, since society tends to be that way these days. That’s probably true in email as well and often email is so casual that there is no name at all, just the message.
But what about other cultures? Might using someone’s first possibly offend them?
Do you assume it’s OK to address everyone you meet by their first name or is it better to ask?