Thursday, June 18, 2009

Great library service

I just read two great blog posts today on how to provide excellence customer service.

The first is from David Lee King and it looks at how we can eyeball how our competitors (Netflix, bookstores, Google) do business and see either how we can do it better or how we enhance and expand the things we do best. Here are some points to muse on from his post - they are simple ideas but worth thinking hard about:

OK – so libraries have competition. What can you do about that? Here are some thoughts – please add more:
  • What do you do better than everyone else? Focus on that. Prioritize that.

  • You’re a natural community gathering place. Focus on your community. Feed it. Grow it.

  • Ask people why they don’t use your library. Use that information to improve your services.

  • Find your largest population segment of “potential patrons” and focus on growing patrons there.

  • Don’t focus on yourself or your stuff – instead, turn your focus on your customers and their needs.

  • Maybe it’s something as simple as rearranging your stuff so normal people can actually find things. We can do better than LC or Dewey call number order. Really.

  • Work on improving the experience at your library – both in the library and

And here is a stupendously wonderful post on interpreting customer body language - and, not coincidentally, offering terrific customer service. Although Elizabeth Bluemle is talking about bookstores, and specifically children's bookstores, everything she says can be transferred to a library setting. Here's a small tidbit of her post (but you really must read the whole thing):

Body language is huge when you're recommending books to customers. They will literally lean toward you and a book when they're interested, and lean away or step back when they're not. Kids are particularly funny about this: kids (especially ages 6-10) who don't know you, and who are not yet as schooled in politeness as most adults, may actually silently refuse to take hold of a book you're showing them if they aren't intrigued. When this happens, I either move on to the next recommendation or, if it's a great book I'm pretty sure the child will love, I reassure them that they don't have to commit to any book they take a look at, and that they might find it worthwhile to read a page or two of the proffered title. I also let them know that these are just suggestions, and that they certainly won't hurt my feelings if they decide not to get a book I've recommended. "You want the right book at the right time, a book you're in the mood for," I tell them, and—the pressure lifted—they usually are willing to take a look at whatever book with an iffy cover but terrific insides I'm trying to hand them.

The lovely thing about great customer service is that it doesn't need to cost money - it only requires a bit of thought, time, and attention. A perfect recipe for these hard times.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Eva, thank you! Great post and great ideas about suggesting books to kids.
    Customer service - can it get worse at the unnamed system we both work for? The higher ups prevent us with their myriad of rules from giving the best we can. Have you heard the latest? Items must be returned by the due date's closing time. In other words, anything left in the dropbox after closing will be late and fined. I can already hear the howls! Wish the 4th floor could come down to my branch and man the desk for a day. Sigh....