Emotional Customer Service for Library Professionals.

Notes from 2009 COMO Conference in Columbus, Georgia

Emotional Customer Service for Library Professionals: Making the connection with patrons that makes them want to come back.

Presenter: Andrew Sanderbeck

Beginning exercise:

Identity crisis:

Three things about the person with exchange of name tag and remain that person until the identity is passed off to the next person. Similar to the game telephone played in school.

How can this be used in the workplace:

Use in the organization as a tool for quality control and make sure that the information is moving and stays correct and in contex.

What stores will you go back to and what stores will you never go back to?

We need to focus on the emotional needs of out patrons not just the physical ones.

Work sheet passed out with fill in thanks to keep you focused on listening instead of reading ahead. (If you want a copy of this I can send it to you).

Thoughts lead to feelings that lead to behavior that lead to events that lead to belief systems. All of this can be created by a lie or someone else’s experience.

This  belief system can all be overcome by giving consistently good customer service.

Is every customer a good customer for our library and is the customer always right?

The customer is not always right, however, the customer is always the customer.

Seek first to understand then to be understood. This was not Stephen Covey, but actually Saint Francis.

On the whole we don’t seek to understand the patron, just respond and judging stops us from actually listening. Our goal is to understand even if we disagree with what we are hearing.

Fair is a perception.

What is the difference between empathy and sympathy? Are we empathizing with of patrons?

Never let a patron leave angry. They may come back angry, never come back, or comment on it.

A question you never ask is “Do you understand?”

Training isn’t useful unless you follow up.

Paper folding excercise:

Sometimes your instructions aren’t clear to the other person.

Adults can only listen for 7-11 minutes in the morning  and only 4-7 minutes in the afternoon before they mentally leave the room. – Jack Wolf  Sarasota, Florida.

Three ways you can keep them engaged.

  1. Get other people talking/create open dialogue
  2. Do some form of activity
  3. Make them laugh

The customer Service Experience

  • Service
  • Experience
  • Expectations
  • Challenges

Be aware of cultural differences in your patron base. An example of this is not to point.

From hand out (again if you would like a copy, I’ll email it to you.)

Survey of visits to public libraries:

Customers noticed:
• Bright lighting
• Colors
• Smells good/bad
• Positioning of displays
• Employees present/non-present
• Asking for help/not help/too much help
• Employees taking amount themselves
• Space
• Noise
• Checkout lines
• Attitude of employees
• Eye contact
• Acknowledgment of patrons
• Going with patrons vs saying its over there
• Having to wait in line
• Acknowledgment/no acknowledgment in line
• Greeting in leaving

Notice how what “happened” created a general “feeling” which either precipitated the customer either wanting to come back or not.

Activity on changing Fire Starter phrases to relationship builders.

Example: “You didn’t do this right!”  to ” I’m not sure you’ll get the results you want that way, have you considered this way?”


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