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David Lee King

Be Nice to Customers – Even Online



Remember all that Domino’s Pizza craziness of a week or so ago? This video, originally from the Today Show, explains what happens after the fact when employees do stupid things online – in this case, the employees were apparently fired (among other things – watch the video to find out more).

Thankfully, that type of sheer stupidity towards customers would NEVER happen in a library, right? After all… we’re trained professionals. We paid for two years of grad school to be able to work with people! And we hire para-professional staff who ALSO love to work with the public. Right?

Well. Check these tweets out:

Good customer service?

or:

Good customer service?

… and one more:

Good customer service?

Now, of course I realize these tweets weren’t meant for the actual patron to see – the librarians in all three screenshots most likely really DO have great customer service skills, and were simply frustrated … so they decided to vent via Twitter (in Twitter’s  public feed. Oops).

But still.

I think there’s a HUGE GRAY area right now in the online world. Many of us are using these tools for work AND for non-work stuff. And it’s confusing! Some people set up two Facebook accounts/IM accounts/Twitter feeds. Some (like me) blend them all together. My Twitter feed flows into my Facebook feed, sometimes with some unintended consequences (well ok – usually I just get something like “David, I have no earthly idea what you’re talking about” from an old high school chum).

But still.

What happens when said “dumba**” in the screenshot above decides to use Twitter, wants to connect with people … so he/she does that “find everyone within 20 miles of this zipcode” search, and discovers the librarian virtually hollering at him/her?

In some cases, these lovely little quotes can be found pretty easily … and can also be traced back to the owner of the words (and the library that person works for).

Then what? Does the library director have to issue a statement (like the CEO of Domino’s did)? What happens to the librarians above when their library director discovers Twitter?

What do you think? Do you vent about your patrons online? Do you keep separate personal/work accounts in the social networks you frequent?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://www.eeyorelibrarian.blogspot.com/ The Eeyore Librarian

    Have a strong alter-ego. Certain people know, some people could guess – but its not going to turn up on a google search of your name, or your employers. Keep a seperate professional identity. You have to have some fun online without ruining your future job prospects!! ;-)

  • http://www.eeyorelibrarian.blogspot.com/ The Eeyore Librarian

    Have a strong alter-ego. Certain people know, some people could guess – but its not going to turn up on a google search of your name, or your employers. Keep a seperate professional identity. You have to have some fun online without ruining your future job prospects!! ;-)

  • http://www.eeyorelibrarian.blogspot.com The Eeyore Librarian

    Have a strong alter-ego. Certain people know, some people could guess – but its not going to turn up on a google search of your name, or your employers. Keep a seperate professional identity. You have to have some fun online without ruining your future job prospects!! ;-)

  • http://deborahfitchett.blogspot.com/ Deborah Fitchett

    I make sure my colleagues and managers know where my blog, twitter, friendfeed etc are – most of them aren’t going to follow me, but they might decide to look one day, so I *have* to be on best behaviour. :-)

    If I want to vent I do it without identifying details, in my personal livejournal account, under a pseudonym, with the friend’s lock on.

  • http://deborahfitchett.blogspot.com/ Deborah Fitchett

    I make sure my colleagues and managers know where my blog, twitter, friendfeed etc are – most of them aren’t going to follow me, but they might decide to look one day, so I *have* to be on best behaviour. :-)

    If I want to vent I do it without identifying details, in my personal livejournal account, under a pseudonym, with the friend’s lock on.

  • http://deborahfitchett.blogspot.com/ Deborah Fitchett

    I make sure my colleagues and managers know where my blog, twitter, friendfeed etc are – most of them aren’t going to follow me, but they might decide to look one day, so I *have* to be on best behaviour. :-)

    If I want to vent I do it without identifying details, in my personal livejournal account, under a pseudonym, with the friend’s lock on.

  • Kristi P.

    Besides the unprofessional behavior that you discuss and, well, straight bad manners, what about the fact that these folks are Twittering while at work? If I were a supervisor, that would be akin to playing solitaire when things get slow.

  • Kristi P.

    Besides the unprofessional behavior that you discuss and, well, straight bad manners, what about the fact that these folks are Twittering while at work? If I were a supervisor, that would be akin to playing solitaire when things get slow.

  • Kristi P.

    Besides the unprofessional behavior that you discuss and, well, straight bad manners, what about the fact that these folks are Twittering while at work? If I were a supervisor, that would be akin to playing solitaire when things get slow.

  • http://deborahfitchett.blogspot.com/ Deborah Fitchett

    Solitaire is solitary, unproductive, and addictive (or maybe that was just me). Twittering, handled right, is professional networking.

    (Argh, that zebra icon is not *meant* to be attached to this persona. I think I know where you’re getting it from, and I must have words with them, because I’m not sure how *they* got it.)

  • http://deborahfitchett.blogspot.com/ Deborah Fitchett

    Solitaire is solitary, unproductive, and addictive (or maybe that was just me). Twittering, handled right, is professional networking.

    (Argh, that zebra icon is not *meant* to be attached to this persona. I think I know where you’re getting it from, and I must have words with them, because I’m not sure how *they* got it.)

  • http://deborahfitchett.blogspot.com Deborah Fitchett

    Solitaire is solitary, unproductive, and addictive (or maybe that was just me). Twittering, handled right, is professional networking.

    (Argh, that zebra icon is not *meant* to be attached to this persona. I think I know where you’re getting it from, and I must have words with them, because I’m not sure how *they* got it.)

  • http://beyondrefdesk.blogspot.com/ Bridget

    Many years ago (2003) when blogs weren’t as popular, a friend of mine wrote an awful entry about me on her blog. She didn’t think I would ever find it; anyways it ruined our friendship. From that point on, I make it a rule to never, ever say anything online that I wouldn’t say to someone to his or her face. As far as separate accounts, I don’t bother; it’s too much work. My online presence is a mixture of my professional and personal life. I don’t share too many details about my personal life, but occasionally I’ll throw in a tweet about baking or getting ready for a date. Before every online post I always ask myself: “is there someone who I wouldn’t want to see this?” If the answer is yes, I don’t post it. (You should see the amount of unpublished posts I have in my blog because of this! And when I go back and read them a day or two later, I’m very grateful that I never hit ‘publish.’)

  • http://beyondrefdesk.blogspot.com/ Bridget

    Many years ago (2003) when blogs weren’t as popular, a friend of mine wrote an awful entry about me on her blog. She didn’t think I would ever find it; anyways it ruined our friendship. From that point on, I make it a rule to never, ever say anything online that I wouldn’t say to someone to his or her face. As far as separate accounts, I don’t bother; it’s too much work. My online presence is a mixture of my professional and personal life. I don’t share too many details about my personal life, but occasionally I’ll throw in a tweet about baking or getting ready for a date. Before every online post I always ask myself: “is there someone who I wouldn’t want to see this?” If the answer is yes, I don’t post it. (You should see the amount of unpublished posts I have in my blog because of this! And when I go back and read them a day or two later, I’m very grateful that I never hit ‘publish.’)

  • http://beyondrefdesk.blogspot.com Bridget

    Many years ago (2003) when blogs weren’t as popular, a friend of mine wrote an awful entry about me on her blog. She didn’t think I would ever find it; anyways it ruined our friendship. From that point on, I make it a rule to never, ever say anything online that I wouldn’t say to someone to his or her face. As far as separate accounts, I don’t bother; it’s too much work. My online presence is a mixture of my professional and personal life. I don’t share too many details about my personal life, but occasionally I’ll throw in a tweet about baking or getting ready for a date. Before every online post I always ask myself: “is there someone who I wouldn’t want to see this?” If the answer is yes, I don’t post it. (You should see the amount of unpublished posts I have in my blog because of this! And when I go back and read them a day or two later, I’m very grateful that I never hit ‘publish.’)

  • http://effinglibrarian.blogspot.com/ the.effing.librarian

    Now I feel sorry for the librarians within the 20-mile radius of the 33040 zip code that I told Twitter I’m in (which I’m not). So I’m apologizing now: “I’m sorry if my tweets got you in trouble. (…And if they didn’t, why not?)”

  • http://effinglibrarian.blogspot.com/ the.effing.librarian

    Now I feel sorry for the librarians within the 20-mile radius of the 33040 zip code that I told Twitter I’m in (which I’m not). So I’m apologizing now: “I’m sorry if my tweets got you in trouble. (…And if they didn’t, why not?)”

  • http://effinglibrarian.blogspot.com the.effing.librarian

    Now I feel sorry for the librarians within the 20-mile radius of the 33040 zip code that I told Twitter I’m in (which I’m not). So I’m apologizing now: “I’m sorry if my tweets got you in trouble. (…And if they didn’t, why not?)”

  • http://luvgardenias.blogspot.com/ Deborah

    David, thanks so much for addressing this! I discussed similar things with library folks recently and got surprisingly negative reactions. Many librarians I spoke with felt it was fine to vent about library patrons as long as you did it anonymously. Makes the profession look great, huh?

  • http://luvgardenias.blogspot.com/ Deborah

    David, thanks so much for addressing this! I discussed similar things with library folks recently and got surprisingly negative reactions. Many librarians I spoke with felt it was fine to vent about library patrons as long as you did it anonymously. Makes the profession look great, huh?

  • http://luvgardenias.blogspot.com Deborah

    David, thanks so much for addressing this! I discussed similar things with library folks recently and got surprisingly negative reactions. Many librarians I spoke with felt it was fine to vent about library patrons as long as you did it anonymously. Makes the profession look great, huh?

  • http://stevenbell.info/ stevenb

    This has been going on forever, now enhanced by internet technology. Going back about 20 years I had a reference colleague that used to refer to patrons as “MOP”s, as in “Boy, that MOP really got me annoyed today”. MOP = Most Obnoxious Patron – and this librarian made no secrets about who her MOP of the week was.

    It always disturbed me that a librarian would even think of patrons in this way. If someone is obnoxious, annoying or whatever, it might have as much to do with our services as their attitude. When I did become a lib director I would make it clear this was not acceptable and it was our responsibility to figure out why patrons were having problems with us – and if there was someone who was just a jerk for no reason – then just try to kill them with kindness.

  • http://stevenbell.info/ stevenb

    This has been going on forever, now enhanced by internet technology. Going back about 20 years I had a reference colleague that used to refer to patrons as “MOP”s, as in “Boy, that MOP really got me annoyed today”. MOP = Most Obnoxious Patron – and this librarian made no secrets about who her MOP of the week was.

    It always disturbed me that a librarian would even think of patrons in this way. If someone is obnoxious, annoying or whatever, it might have as much to do with our services as their attitude. When I did become a lib director I would make it clear this was not acceptable and it was our responsibility to figure out why patrons were having problems with us – and if there was someone who was just a jerk for no reason – then just try to kill them with kindness.

  • http://stevenbell.info stevenb

    This has been going on forever, now enhanced by internet technology. Going back about 20 years I had a reference colleague that used to refer to patrons as “MOP”s, as in “Boy, that MOP really got me annoyed today”. MOP = Most Obnoxious Patron – and this librarian made no secrets about who her MOP of the week was.

    It always disturbed me that a librarian would even think of patrons in this way. If someone is obnoxious, annoying or whatever, it might have as much to do with our services as their attitude. When I did become a lib director I would make it clear this was not acceptable and it was our responsibility to figure out why patrons were having problems with us – and if there was someone who was just a jerk for no reason – then just try to kill them with kindness.

  • Belle Free

    I’m old fashioned — professional to me means that if we have to speak negatively about a patron it should be done off the library floor and in no traceable form. I also agree with Stevenb — maybe it’s us & not them. I had an instructor who encouraged us to put on our professional customer service persona on the floor — and that helps. Just think about how the patrons see you.

    BTW – I have professional & personal email accounts.

  • Belle Free

    I’m old fashioned — professional to me means that if we have to speak negatively about a patron it should be done off the library floor and in no traceable form. I also agree with Stevenb — maybe it’s us & not them. I had an instructor who encouraged us to put on our professional customer service persona on the floor — and that helps. Just think about how the patrons see you.

    BTW – I have professional & personal email accounts.

  • Belle Free

    I’m old fashioned — professional to me means that if we have to speak negatively about a patron it should be done off the library floor and in no traceable form. I also agree with Stevenb — maybe it’s us & not them. I had an instructor who encouraged us to put on our professional customer service persona on the floor — and that helps. Just think about how the patrons see you.

    BTW – I have professional & personal email accounts.

  • http://luvgardenias.blogspot.com/ Deborah

    Two more things to add: Working with the public is stressful at times, and I think a minimal amount of venting is OK, as long as it is done privately, among co-workers and not in a public forum. I expect good customer service from my staff, and agree that sometimes the problem might be us, but I’ve seen a wide variety of situations in which it was not. ;) I would rather staff vent to me or among themselves than on twitter.

    Also, the presenters at one of the Computers in Libraries sessions I attended addressed the issue of keeping separate personal and professional identities on the internet. Several people agreed that, over time, it really isn’t possible. They said their identities began to merge. Haven’t tried it myself.

  • http://luvgardenias.blogspot.com/ Deborah

    Two more things to add: Working with the public is stressful at times, and I think a minimal amount of venting is OK, as long as it is done privately, among co-workers and not in a public forum. I expect good customer service from my staff, and agree that sometimes the problem might be us, but I’ve seen a wide variety of situations in which it was not. ;) I would rather staff vent to me or among themselves than on twitter.

    Also, the presenters at one of the Computers in Libraries sessions I attended addressed the issue of keeping separate personal and professional identities on the internet. Several people agreed that, over time, it really isn’t possible. They said their identities began to merge. Haven’t tried it myself.

  • http://luvgardenias.blogspot.com Deborah

    Two more things to add: Working with the public is stressful at times, and I think a minimal amount of venting is OK, as long as it is done privately, among co-workers and not in a public forum. I expect good customer service from my staff, and agree that sometimes the problem might be us, but I’ve seen a wide variety of situations in which it was not. ;) I would rather staff vent to me or among themselves than on twitter.

    Also, the presenters at one of the Computers in Libraries sessions I attended addressed the issue of keeping separate personal and professional identities on the internet. Several people agreed that, over time, it really isn’t possible. They said their identities began to merge. Haven’t tried it myself.

  • http://gathernodust.blogspot.com/ Jeff Scott

    The Domino’s pizza scandal was disgusting and extreme. A library staff person saying something generic online is pretty difficult to track. However, I have had employee myspace pages where they name where they work and how much the patrons suck. I made general mention of people myspacing at work and she switched her profile to private so people couldn’t see it.

  • http://gathernodust.blogspot.com/ Jeff Scott

    The Domino’s pizza scandal was disgusting and extreme. A library staff person saying something generic online is pretty difficult to track. However, I have had employee myspace pages where they name where they work and how much the patrons suck. I made general mention of people myspacing at work and she switched her profile to private so people couldn’t see it.

  • http://gathernodust.blogspot.com Jeff Scott

    The Domino’s pizza scandal was disgusting and extreme. A library staff person saying something generic online is pretty difficult to track. However, I have had employee myspace pages where they name where they work and how much the patrons suck. I made general mention of people myspacing at work and she switched her profile to private so people couldn’t see it.

  • http://librarytrainer.com/ Lori Reed

    A few points…one of my first jobs was at Domino’s and we would have never even thought of doing something like this. I will admit to putting pizzas with anchovies in the back of my pickup but I digress.

    It is tempting to vent about customers in Twitter. In my case my customers are library staff. Not a good thing to do no matter who your customers are. I can understand the need to vent but why would you want to share that with the world…especially when some of your Twitter followers may be your future managers or employers. We recently had two public school teachers fired in Charlotte for making unprofessional comments about their students on Facebook.

    Kristi P. – Twitter can be used for professional development during the work day if used properly. I monitor multiple Twitter feeds to communicate with library staff and library peeps from around the world. Twitter usually gets me faster tech support than any other means when I have tech issues.

    There is also an argument that it’s ok if you have a private feed. Let me assure you that nothing is ever private. It only takes one person who you previously trusted to press print screen and then paste that screen shot into an email to your manager to let you know that there is no such thing as privacy on the Internet.

    And DLK…paraprofessional?

  • http://librarytrainer.com/ Lori Reed

    A few points…one of my first jobs was at Domino’s and we would have never even thought of doing something like this. I will admit to putting pizzas with anchovies in the back of my pickup but I digress.

    It is tempting to vent about customers in Twitter. In my case my customers are library staff. Not a good thing to do no matter who your customers are. I can understand the need to vent but why would you want to share that with the world…especially when some of your Twitter followers may be your future managers or employers. We recently had two public school teachers fired in Charlotte for making unprofessional comments about their students on Facebook.

    Kristi P. – Twitter can be used for professional development during the work day if used properly. I monitor multiple Twitter feeds to communicate with library staff and library peeps from around the world. Twitter usually gets me faster tech support than any other means when I have tech issues.

    There is also an argument that it’s ok if you have a private feed. Let me assure you that nothing is ever private. It only takes one person who you previously trusted to press print screen and then paste that screen shot into an email to your manager to let you know that there is no such thing as privacy on the Internet.

    And DLK…paraprofessional?

  • http://librarytrainer.com Lori Reed

    A few points…one of my first jobs was at Domino’s and we would have never even thought of doing something like this. I will admit to putting pizzas with anchovies in the back of my pickup but I digress.

    It is tempting to vent about customers in Twitter. In my case my customers are library staff. Not a good thing to do no matter who your customers are. I can understand the need to vent but why would you want to share that with the world…especially when some of your Twitter followers may be your future managers or employers. We recently had two public school teachers fired in Charlotte for making unprofessional comments about their students on Facebook.

    Kristi P. – Twitter can be used for professional development during the work day if used properly. I monitor multiple Twitter feeds to communicate with library staff and library peeps from around the world. Twitter usually gets me faster tech support than any other means when I have tech issues.

    There is also an argument that it’s ok if you have a private feed. Let me assure you that nothing is ever private. It only takes one person who you previously trusted to press print screen and then paste that screen shot into an email to your manager to let you know that there is no such thing as privacy on the Internet.

    And DLK…paraprofessional?

  • davidleeking

    Lori – sorry ’bout that! Just trying to differentiate that some libraries have different levels of staff – many types of professionals, from a systems administrator to a Trainer to a Grant Writer to a librarian with a grad degree – all professionals. And we also have staff that are just as important, but don’t do those types of jobs (ie., reference associate, part time evening staff, etc) and who tend to be paid at a lower level…

    Are we good with that differentiation for this post?

  • davidleeking

    Lori – sorry ’bout that! Just trying to differentiate that some libraries have different levels of staff – many types of professionals, from a systems administrator to a Trainer to a Grant Writer to a librarian with a grad degree – all professionals. And we also have staff that are just as important, but don’t do those types of jobs (ie., reference associate, part time evening staff, etc) and who tend to be paid at a lower level…

    Are we good with that differentiation for this post?

  • davidleeking

    Lori – sorry ’bout that! Just trying to differentiate that some libraries have different levels of staff – many types of professionals, from a systems administrator to a Trainer to a Grant Writer to a librarian with a grad degree – all professionals. And we also have staff that are just as important, but don’t do those types of jobs (ie., reference associate, part time evening staff, etc) and who tend to be paid at a lower level…

    Are we good with that differentiation for this post?

  • http://librarytrainer.com/ Lori Reed

    Yeah…we’re fine. I knew what you meant. I like to think of everyone as a professional. But that’s for another conversation. Don’t want to get off topic here. Excellent post! I’ve been tempted the past few weeks to DM people and say…dude what if your coworkers or customers see what you are saying about them?

  • http://librarytrainer.com/ Lori Reed

    Yeah…we’re fine. I knew what you meant. I like to think of everyone as a professional. But that’s for another conversation. Don’t want to get off topic here. Excellent post! I’ve been tempted the past few weeks to DM people and say…dude what if your coworkers or customers see what you are saying about them?

  • http://librarytrainer.com Lori Reed

    Yeah…we’re fine. I knew what you meant. I like to think of everyone as a professional. But that’s for another conversation. Don’t want to get off topic here. Excellent post! I’ve been tempted the past few weeks to DM people and say…dude what if your coworkers or customers see what you are saying about them?

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  • http://musingsaboutlibrarianship.blogspot.com/2009/04/creating-custom-search-boxes-for.html Aaron

    I’ve seen the exact three comments on twitter, was a bit shocked.

  • http://musingsaboutlibrarianship.blogspot.com/2009/04/creating-custom-search-boxes-for.html Aaron

    I’ve seen the exact three comments on twitter, was a bit shocked.

  • http://musingsaboutlibrarianship.blogspot.com/2009/04/creating-custom-search-boxes-for.html Aaron

    I’ve seen the exact three comments on twitter, was a bit shocked.

  • Jenny Reiswig

    Twitter adds a new level of immediacy, but this isn’t a new phenomenon. Blogs, forums, listservs, newsgroups… you name the medium, and library folks have used it to vent. But they didn’t end up in Google forever and ever. If I swap stories about this week’s escapades with Porn Guy over a beer at the pub after work, it doesn’t end up in Google. I hope.

    On the flip side, I do some “reputation monitoring” and it is painful to recognize our library as the center of someone else’s expletive-laden screed (especially when you can see that their frustration was preventable or confused). And I can’t usually respond, at least on Twitter, because it would completely creep them out and feel stalker-ish. Best I can do is use it to identify deficiencies we can correct for next time.

    So David, are you going to contact the people you’ve set up as the Domino’s workers of the library world and let them know they might want to take down those tweets? (Not that they’ll be gone from Google and everywhere)

  • Jenny Reiswig

    Twitter adds a new level of immediacy, but this isn’t a new phenomenon. Blogs, forums, listservs, newsgroups… you name the medium, and library folks have used it to vent. But they didn’t end up in Google forever and ever. If I swap stories about this week’s escapades with Porn Guy over a beer at the pub after work, it doesn’t end up in Google. I hope.

    On the flip side, I do some “reputation monitoring” and it is painful to recognize our library as the center of someone else’s expletive-laden screed (especially when you can see that their frustration was preventable or confused). And I can’t usually respond, at least on Twitter, because it would completely creep them out and feel stalker-ish. Best I can do is use it to identify deficiencies we can correct for next time.

    So David, are you going to contact the people you’ve set up as the Domino’s workers of the library world and let them know they might want to take down those tweets? (Not that they’ll be gone from Google and everywhere)

  • Jenny Reiswig

    Twitter adds a new level of immediacy, but this isn’t a new phenomenon. Blogs, forums, listservs, newsgroups… you name the medium, and library folks have used it to vent. But they didn’t end up in Google forever and ever. If I swap stories about this week’s escapades with Porn Guy over a beer at the pub after work, it doesn’t end up in Google. I hope.

    On the flip side, I do some “reputation monitoring” and it is painful to recognize our library as the center of someone else’s expletive-laden screed (especially when you can see that their frustration was preventable or confused). And I can’t usually respond, at least on Twitter, because it would completely creep them out and feel stalker-ish. Best I can do is use it to identify deficiencies we can correct for next time.

    So David, are you going to contact the people you’ve set up as the Domino’s workers of the library world and let them know they might want to take down those tweets? (Not that they’ll be gone from Google and everywhere)

  • http://www.westdeptford.lib.nj.us/ Carolyn Wood

    I don’t see value in complaining about library users online. After all, they are using the library.

    Complaining could serve the library community in some ways. Consider the effects of complaining about how difficult it is to find multiple copies of popular titles in our library collections or limits of current OPAC search functionality or perhaps how desperately libraries need support for funding to expand and grow services.

    In a perfect world (or hypothetical scenario), the negative energy would be redirected to influence change. Social media is young and we are still learning …