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Silver Girl

When to use nicknames with clients

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Silver Girl

A fluffy WDYT -

In my role at work, I receive forms from clients (my first contact with them) and then call or email them in response.

The forms ask for their details including their full name and email address. So they write, say, “Timothy Jones” and ”Tim.Jones@....”.

Would you start your email greeting them as ”Timothy”, or go straight to ”Tim”?

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blue86
3 minutes ago, Silver Girl said:

A fluffy WDYT -

In my role at work, I receive forms from clients (my first contact with them) and then call or email them in response.

The forms ask for their details including their full name and email address. So they write, say, “Timothy Jones” and ”Tim.Jones@....”.

Would you start your email greeting them as ”Timothy”, or go straight to ”Tim”?

However they sign off on their email, at least until they advise otherwise or you’ve had an actual conversation with them (so if they answer their phone as Tim speaking eg)

edit - if they’ve typed their name in the form, that’s how you address them to start the process

Edited by blue86
Because I read the op properly the second time
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blackcat20

I'd start with formal name, then swap to nickname if they sign off a reply email with it.

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born.a.girl

That's a very good question, and probably would be a good addition to an information form, the way they do for school kids.

Yes, though, if their email is 'Tim', I'd call them Tim.  I wouldn't have thought of it as a nickname though. 

 

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doubledelight

I would amend the forms to have them nominate their preferred name.

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CrankyM

I'd put on the form "preferred name" just like they do with a lot of forms now days.

It always caused problems with my grandmother's actual name being one thing but she was always referred to by a completely different name, which wasn't even her middle name (I didn't actually know her real name until I was about 6). You also have people who prefer the full name and not the short one. And then I worked with someone who refused to even give her full name to anyone and was always known as Jill (I still don't know if it was short for Jillian or something else).

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seayork2002

If i have never emailed/spoken to them before i go with form name exactly

If their signature on their email is shortened I use that

If unsure i always go full name

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blue86
14 minutes ago, CrankyM said:

I'd put on the form "preferred name" just like they do with a lot of forms now days.

It always caused problems with my grandmother's actual name being one thing but she was always referred to by a completely different name, which wasn't even her middle name (I didn't actually know her real name until I was about 6). You also have people who prefer the full name and not the short one. And then I worked with someone who refused to even give her full name to anyone and was always known as Jill (I still don't know if it was short for Jillian or something else).

Agreed , assuming the form has a requirement for legal name for ID/medical etc purposes. If it’s just a general “full this out and someone will call you” assume the name they typed is their preferred name 

On this, I’m so glad my new doctors office uses preferred names. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve sat in a waiting room not realising I was being called because I never use my legal name 🤦‍♀️

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Lesley225

I don't consider say Tim a nickname.  I'd always reply to the name given to me.  BUt yes having a preferred name field give everyone an opportunity to provide information on what they prefer to be called.

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Silver Girl

Thanks all. Nickname isn’t the right term - I guess I meant the shortened form.

I do tend to go with the ’official’ name until the client uses the abbreviated version.

I’ve noticed when I’m the client, some people go straight to a shorter form. My name has a less ’formal’ type of abbreviation than, say, Susan/Sue - think Tracey/Trace IYKWIM? I don’t mind that, but then again I’ll answer to just about anything!

I agree about having the form updated to include ”preferred name”, but the thought of the request going up for consideration/scrutiny by all in the chain of command (large company) defeats me before I begin lol.

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born.a.girl

The idea of a preferred name could also include a consideration for elderly women who prefer 'Mrs'.   My mother and MIL got used to being called by their first names, but resisted a bit for a while, and I'm sure there are plenty out there who still prefer it.  It would also help people like me who have not used Miss or Mrs since the mid 70s.

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Prancer is coming

I ring people all the time with just their legal name to go from.  I would always use the legal name and if in doubt ask.  I am quite upfront after I introduce myself and will ask if I have pronounced it right, if they prefer Timothy or Tim or prefer Mr Smith.  Like the person above, still people out there that preferred to be called by their title.  
 

I would only ask about a shortened name if it leant itself such a Christopher or a hypened name.  Particularly more with a 16 year old called Bartholomew rather than a middle aged Suzanne.

Edited by Prancer is coming

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Freddie'sMum

Good question OP - I would go with what they sign off their name as "Regards, Tim" - so I would use "Dear Tim" next time.  What trips me up is when they are called Tim Jones but everyone says "oh just send that to Bill" and I am wondering who the hell is Bill but apparently Tim's nickname is Bill !

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Milly Molly Mandy

Don’t ever presume someone wants their name turned into the nickname some  associate with it. This happens to my husband all the time and he hates the nickname/shortened version. People even continue to use it when he corrects them.

Edited by Milly Molly Mandy
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nom_de_plume

I go by whatever they sign their email off as or introduce themselves as.

I use a nickname as my preferred name, but some places I've worked insist on having my email address as legal first name.last name@work.com It causes me all sorts of issues because people don't know who that email address belongs to and frequently email things to the wrong address.

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Lesley225
2 hours ago, Milly Molly Mandy said:

Don’t ever presume someone wants their name turned into the nickname some  associate with it. This happens to my husband all the time and he hates the nickname/shortened version. People even continue to use it when he corrects them.

I do think that's rude ignoring what you want to be called or paying so little attention to  you that you can't be bothered to listen.

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YodaTheWrinkledOne
On 11/09/2020 at 1:27 PM, blackcat20 said:

I'd start with formal name, then swap to nickname if they sign off a reply email with it.

I do this. How they sign off their emails is how I address people.

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Not Escapin Xmas

When you email the first tIme, I would have a standard question that says ‘how would you like to be addressed?’ And at the same time, start the (long, arduous, painful I’m sure) process to get the form fixed. 

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SeaPrincess
On 11/09/2020 at 11:38 AM, doubledelight said:

I would amend the forms to have them nominate their preferred name.

We had preferred name on our forms at work - we had many people, including staff, who went by their second/middle name. This is what I would do as a long-term solution.

OP, I’d go to Tim if that’s on his email.

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Murderino

I have been contacted by a solar installer about a quote this week.  His email is toby.xxx@xxx but the sign off is Tobias so I have used Tobias when replying.  I would so the same if I were the provider and he my customer.

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roseparker

I would always wait till they use it first. And even then, ask what they prefer, and then once preference is given, change name in database (or add nickname) so preferred name is used. 

I was given a nickname that I hated in highschool, some friends still use it decades later - I don't correct anyone on it because it's sort of nostalgic I guess, but it someone bugs me as it was never a name I used myself. 

Another important one is to check you're pronouncing the name properly if it's one of those ones that has multiple ways you can say it. I mortifyingly spent the best part of a year mispronouncing a clients name completely - she took that long to bring it up. Very awkward for all involved! 

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SeaPrincess
1 hour ago, roseparker said:

I would always wait till they use it first. And even then, ask what they prefer, and then once preference is given, change name in database (or add nickname) so preferred name is used. 

This is an interesting one. Everyone I know shortens my name. I don't mind, but I don't. As an example, I once phoned a friend at her workplace to book something in, identified myself with my name, and she asked for my surname. We had been overseas on holiday together a week earlier.

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Prancer is coming
1 hour ago, roseparker said:

I would always wait till they use it first. And even then, ask what they prefer, and then once preference is given, change name in database (or add nickname) so preferred name is used. 

 

This does not work if you are phoning people though.  The first thing I say after hello is ‘can I please speak with John Smith!  But as I said up thread, I will then usually ask if they would prefer to be called John or Mr Smith or check I have pronounced it right.

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mumpteen

I would use the name they filled in on the form until you see their email sign-off, then use that. I would never assume the name in their email address is their preferred name, it's often determined by workplace policy or availability rather than preference.

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