Impeccable Relationships

Impeccable Customer Service Tip #220

Not sure how to address a customer or client? Prefer to be on a first-name basis? The key is to ask early in the relationship: “By the way, do you prefer ‘Bob’ or ‘Mr. Smith’?” They’ll almost always give you permission to use their first name.


  1. I prefer the formal approach..Mr. Smith, etc. If the person wishes to lessen the formality, he/she will suggest otherwise. Maybe the person does not seek an informal relationship. Jerry

  2. That’s a really great tip, Steve. Even though it comes up rarely for me, I wondered how to handle it. Now I know. Thanks.
    Your tip moved me to create a similar practice for myself: Unsure whether to call him Mike or Michael, I avoided calling him anything for the longest time. All I needed to was ask, “Do you prefer to be called Michael or Mike?” Done.

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