It was a pleasant surprise when the maitre'd said my name. This was after waiting a few minutes during the dinner rush for a table at Original Joe's in San Jose (no, I didn't want to sit at the counter. I was coveting a cozy, sexy booth.) I'd again realize how great it is for customers to hear their name spoken in a friendly way.
Sure, my cheese burger -- juicy, drippy, tasty, Angus beef, medium rare -- and crisp steak cut french fries were immensely satisfying. The waiter kept my drink full and things moved along at a nice clip. I wanted to cuddle myself into a ball after nearly finishing the burger, because I felt sated and sleepy.
But the real shock came after I paid, and was heading out the door. The hostess smiled at me and said good night. Fine. Been there, done that. Next to her was the maitre'd, who called my name out, and followed with a "Thank you, Mary. Have a good night." I was startled at how nice I felt when he did that. It took me back to dealings with successful restauranteurs. The smart ones find out and use their customers names as often as possible. It's interesting that such a small action, used on a consistent basis, can have a positive & perhaps lasting effect.