ARSL2014: Delivering Excellent Customer Service

Delivering Excellent Customer Service
Lisa Lewis 

Xoooox - Stencil Art Installation - HELP

She has done this for 32 years and has worked for Blue Cross/Blue Shield. They were required to take classes and train.

She walked in and was texting. Someone from the audience said they should start and Lisa said, “just a second, I’m in the middle of a text.” It made the room uncomfortable and we eventually realized they were role playing. It was a great way to get our attention!

She didn’t have a powerpoint. She started by sharing examples of customer service. A few years ago, she was looking for a prom dress for her daughter, and she wanted one that was modest. It was difficult to find one. The saleslady said, “we have some. This is what they are all wearing now.” She left the store.

In March of this year, she was invited by the US Embassy in Croatia to do training for librarians. Her airline (European) was excellent and they were concerned. On the way back, she was on an American airline and it was completely different.

She asked us to take a visual of our libraries. What is the first sign? Some have open hours, some say “no food or drink allowed.” Some say no cell phones. One said Welcome. Words like “Don’t, Not Allowed, Do Not, No,” are sending negative messages and our patrons will be on the defensive. Rules are everywhere. Negative wording hurts businesses, and the library is a business. We want people to come in.

The less signage, the better. Too many make the library a clutter, so we should do it as little as possible.
Does every computer need a sign? Patrons don’t read them anyway.

She asked how many of us have music playing in the library? Businesses play music to promote sales. Bars play loud music. Opera/soft music without words can add to the environment. Music promotes comfort and relaxation.

Are they dusty? Are they overcrowded? Packed shelves usually need weeding. If you can’t pull a book out, they are too packed. People aren’t even going to try. Books should not be dirty. Keeping up is hard, but wiping books off before they are shelved can help with the overall image of cleanliness.

She asked how often displays were changed. It’s a lot of work. Digital picture frames on the circ desk can be used to advertise programs instead of signs. They have used food as part of a display, as well as “make and take” displays.

Do we have enough seating? Is it strategic? Should people want to sit down? Changing seating can give things a fresh perspective. Furniture doesn’t necessarily have to match. More people want their own area or chair to sit in instead of a huge table.

Rural libraries should feel like a living room.

How do we assist our patrons?
We need to get out from behind the desk. Walking around and engaging is the only way to get to know our patrons. She has told her staff that if they are sitting and someone approaches them, they have to stand up. You should take a patron to where they need to go and not just say “it’s over there.” We need our patrons to be self-sufficient, but we also need to give them personalized service. She understands the need for self-check but she is not a fan of them, because you lose that connection.

When people call, staff should say the name and “how may I help you?” When you end the phone call, “thank someone for calling,” because it makes people feel valued. She learned this in the insurance industry. Without patrons, we don’t have jobs.

What not to say:
Are you sure? – That is implying that you don’t believe the patron.
Instead say, “That is unusual, let me check on that for you.”

Wait, you’re confusing me. – It says they aren’t making sense.
Instead say, “Can you explain that again.”

You’re wrong – Bad!
Instead say, “There seems to be a misunderstanding.”

No one else has had that problem: You are calling them being dumb or whiny.
Instead say, “Let’s see if we can figure it out.”

Who Told you that? – Shows we are finding someone else to blame.
Instead say, “Let’s find out what needs to be done.”

Well, you’re going to have to…. – it’s our job to take care of the patron.
Instead say, “Let me help you with this.”

It’s library policy – There’s nothing I can do.
Instead say, “The reason we have this policy is because….”

What are patron-friendly policies?
They have to change with the times. They can’t be used forever and ever.
People have had to get rid of the internet due to the economy, and they are using the library’s. They have to use their cell phones sometimes, so we have to understand this and adapt. Cell phone policies might have to be a little flexible.

What about food and drink? Do we have control over what they do with books at home? What is the point of having a policy? Books are going to get dirty, and that is just library business. We have to show some trust in our patrons. For books that smell badly of smoke, spray Febreeze on a cloth and throw that and the book in a bag. Wrap it up and the smell is out.

Fines and Fees:

Are you nickel and diming your patrons? Are you making people pay for copies if they leave them? Staff are not paid on commission. She changed policies to overdue books and damage. Are we going to make money chasing people down? Give your staff the authority to forgive a fine. She talked about a woman that came in with her daughter. The books were two weeks late. The lady started crying and said she was sorry. Lisa recognized this woman and realized the woman had a boy who had died three weeks prior. Lisa put her arms around the woman and hugged her. Everyone has a story when they come in. Lisa asks her staff to look at the paper, especially the obits. We need to be careful with our patrons. We need to chill out and compromise.


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