Call Center Courtesy
During my first training in the call center, we were instructed to use the customer's first name throughout the calls. We were handling calls coming from all over the United States of America, and we were advised that Americans preferred to be addressed by their first names.
But when I was already taking in calls, I noticed that most of them would reply to me using "mam." And to call them by their first name doesn't seem to sound courteous on my part. And ever since then, I made it a point to mirror back how the caller would call me first. If they call me by my first name, then that's how I address them.
A comprehensive study was done on this subject a few years ago and it was determined that 87% of Americans did not like being called by name since they never wanted a personal relationship with a stranger on the phone. The particular study was done with the exception of California, New York and Massachusetts.
Although today's culture is more youth oriented, which leads to call center agents being encouraged to call customers by their first names, courtesy and professionalism should always be on top of considerations. Everyone will agree that a customer must feel and hear respected.
Although Northern counterparts may feel comfortable being called by their first names, the vast majority of Southerners and Westerners may find it rude and disrespectful.
But it should be noted that nobody has ever claimed losing a customer just because they were wrongfully addressed.
If the agent sounds courteous and natural when speaking, this will convey more than anything else the message of professionalism.