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David Lee King

Customer Service When No One is Looking



Just a random thought on customer service. I’m currently reading a book by Jim Palmer (an old friend from my days in Nashville) titled Divine Nobodies: Shedding Religion to Find God. It’s an interesting book (though I realize not everyone’s cup of tea).

Palmer mentions loving libraries, and then goes on to say this (it’s not really the point of his chapter, but it struck me nonetheless): “Sometimes you see strange things in libraries… there’s the time I saw the librarian at the counter turn away from a departing (and apparently difficult) customer and flip her the bird out of everyone’s view except mine at the water fountain. It made for a strange moment when our eyes met, and it burst my bubble that all librarians are mild-mannered Mother Teresa types whose greatest joy in life is simply helping people find books” (pg. 48).

Besides the goofy giggles I get from the seeing the phrase “flip her the bird” in a Christian non-fiction book (I have a quirky sense of humor), this scenario really did give me pause. Why? Well… think about your library staff for a sec. Are their customer service cups half-empty or half-full? Are they prone to to be reactive or proactive? Do they go the extra mile to help customers find something, or do they say “it’s up on the next floor” and point vaguely to the elevator? Do they “flip her the bird” when no one’s looking (or at least, when they THINK no one’s looking)?

Well?

I know some libraries that have mandatory customer service training for all new employees – I think that’s great. Possibly those libraries that do great customer service need to “share the joy” with other libraries?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://www.goblin-cartoons.com/ joshua m. neff

    In general, I’m a pretty positive person. I like humanity as a whole, and I like most people I meet. I really believe the user isn’t broken, and I understand that sometimes people are having a bad day and they take it out on the wrong people (like a librarian who’s doing their best to help).

    But…I’ve been working in customer service for 18 years and I’ve found that some people really deserve to be flipped the bird. At the very least.

  • http://www.goblin-cartoons.com joshua m. neff

    In general, I’m a pretty positive person. I like humanity as a whole, and I like most people I meet. I really believe the user isn’t broken, and I understand that sometimes people are having a bad day and they take it out on the wrong people (like a librarian who’s doing their best to help).

    But…I’ve been working in customer service for 18 years and I’ve found that some people really deserve to be flipped the bird. At the very least.

  • http://www.tolibrarian.com Richard

    At ALA Midwinter, I attended a discussion group for reference services in public libraries and most of the discussion centered on customer service. I think libraries should have mandatory customer service training for all employees, whether they’re new or not. When I worked at the AADL, the people from Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor came to lead customer service training sessions and it worked really well. They even brought treats for us!

  • Sandy

    Sometimes we just have to vent. The goal is to never vent at the customer. Personally, I take several pieces of scrap paper and scribble all the nasty things I would like to say to the “difficult” customer, then tear them up into tiny pieces and throw them away. That way I can face the next customer with a smile

  • Sandy

    Sometimes we just have to vent. The goal is to never vent at the customer. Personally, I take several pieces of scrap paper and scribble all the nasty things I would like to say to the “difficult” customer, then tear them up into tiny pieces and throw them away. That way I can face the next customer with a smile

  • http://www.tolibrarian.com/ Richard

    At ALA Midwinter, I attended a discussion group for reference services in public libraries and most of the discussion centered on customer service. I think libraries should have mandatory customer service training for all employees, whether they're new or not. When I worked at the AADL, the people from Zingerman's Deli in Ann Arbor came to lead customer service training sessions and it worked really well. They even brought treats for us!