Customer Service at the Library

MLNC workshop | July 21, 2011 | Linda Hall Library | Steve W from Boston | Think & Do

Delivering Meaningful and Memorable Service – M&M

Folder is awesome – activity cards, full color, note paper, quotes, graphs, fun!  Plus a Magnet, M&Ms and a Smile pen.  (OK, lots of introverts in the audience today…and Academics (ILL, Reference, Circ)

“This program has been created to help you become more effective with your customers and a more valuable asset to your organization.”

ABCs of Customer Relationships

  • Attitudes – feelings
  • Behaviors – expression of the attitudes
  • Connections – people we do business with
External customers (non-staff) | Internal customers (business partners)
Customer Needs:  As people, customers have fundamental human needs
  • Safety, Security
  • Liked
  • Listened to
  • Accepted
  • Appreciated
  • Respected
  • Acknowledged
  • Understood
  • Trusted
  • Connected
  • Valued

Customer Wants (How customers want to be treated):

  • Friendliness
  • Empathy
  • Politeness
  • Understanding
  • Kindness
  • Fairness
  • Respect
  • Patience
  • Courtesy
  • Sincerity
What do customers want MOST from their service experience?
Help, assistance, resolution of their issue from the FIRST person they speak to.
[In the workshop, we have to avoid terms like satisfaction, professionalism, quality, values and get to what’s beneath those.]
Get to One and Done
– review policy, use cross training, and looking at how you conduct business to resolve the customer’s issue.  Story: Is it necessary to talk to 3 people before you get the library’s address??
Continuous Improvement – when you do the same thing repeatedly = RUT.  “Difference between a rut and a grave is 6 feet.”
How do you change the mindset?  Change is difficult and we get comfortable doing the same thing the same way.  Healthy to embrace change.  “Things don’t grow if the seasons don’t change.”
Home Depot example – buying flooring in Florida.  Employee took ownership of the situation where he needed all the boxes they had in stock.  She wanted to verify, personally.  She arranged delivery of what he needed with another store – he didn’t have to see any other person.  Wonderful experience (and she was not the manager).  He came back the next day and told the manager about that interaction – recognition.
Value of Loyal Library Customers
  • Use more library services (door counts, circ stats, overall use of the library)
  • Easier to serve – get to know them, know how to help them
  • Free library advertising
Why People STOP coming back:
  • 1% – death
  • 3% – moved
  • 5% – formed new business relationship
  • 9% – competition (other libraries, bookstores, Internet)
  • 14% – dissatisfaction
    – Product (defective, not up to expectations)
    – People (pleasant or poor attitude)
    – Process (time consuming, difficult, unclear – how easy is it??  how many people, steps, how much of a pain in the ass is it?? “That’s the policy…”)
  • 68% – attitude of the supplier –  Deadliest attitude = Indifference (they don’t care)
    “People don’t care about how much you know until they know you Care about Them!”
When a customer feels mistreated:
  • 5% will tell you
  • 95% will never come back
  • 80% will bad mouth you and your organization
  • Each will enjoy telling 10-25 other people about their experience
  • 250 people will hear about it (10 x 25) (Wal-mart could quantify the loss  – 1 mistreated person = $250,000 in lost sales!)
How Customers Evaluate Service (things that matter most to customers):
  • R – Reliability – accuracy, consistency, dependability  (keep promises)
  • A – Assurance – knowledge, trust, confidence, competence
  • T – Tangibles – physical appearance of people and workplace (the little things we notice)
  • E – Empathy – caring and attention (put yourself in the other person’s shoes)
  • R – Responsiveness – willingness to help promptly
    • (One of his examples for Tangibles was a sign he found in a shop that said “Please Touch” – the shop sold pottery!  We love it when people pick up and hold our pottery.)
    • Library Examples: open on time, maintain paper in copiers, arrange neat displays, provide homebound services, offer grace periods for loans, implement policies consistently
    • Business Examples: ‘Reliability for less than you think’ (FedEx), ‘What’s the most reliable color on earth?’ (Brown for UPS), ‘Save money. Live better.’ (Wal-mart, tangible), ‘More saving. More doing.’ (Home Depot, tangible), ‘That was easy’ (Stables), ‘Expect more. Pay Less.’ (Target) and ‘You’re in control.’ (Depends)
Attitude is Everything
What is attitude? It’s all about feeling – our emotional responses to people, events, ideas, etc.
Expressed through body language, words, face
  • Leave Impressions – they last – the memory or mental impression of what it felt like.  How did it feel to do business with that person?
  • Determine Actions – Will I go back to that person who left me with a bad impression?  What store will I go back to?
  • Are Contagious – they spread easily – both healthy and bad attitudes can be spread.
Healthy Attitudes (connect and help people) v. Deadly Attitudes (disconnect people)
  • I like you, I’m interested, I want to understand, I appreciate, I care, I value, I want to help you
  • I don’t like you, I’m not interested, I’m smarter, I’m right, I don’t care, I’m more important, I’m too busy for you
An Attitude of Enthusiasm  – positive, healthy
“Nothing great was achieved without enthusiasm.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Joy, contagious, full of energy and excitement
  • “Our customers will be enthusiastic about us if we are enthusiastic about our customers.” – Think & Do’s mission
Expressions and body language
  • A smile (cute kitten smiling) – Smiles are assets that enhance customer relationship accounts
    • A frown turned upside down | Your personal welcome mat | best way to improve your looks | give to give customers
    • Sam Walton’s 10-foot rule – Whenever you come within 10 feet of a customer, you greet them with a friendly smile and ask if you can help.
    • Smile (n): A change in facial expression, involving brightening of the eyes, and upward curving of the mouth, indicating pleasure.
  • Benefits of Smiling – The Power of a Smile
    • People like to live by happy people
    • Expresses a friendly attitude
    • Reduces tension, stress – change the dance/lead by smiling in the face of tension/stress
    • Healthy for you; produces Serotonin (the feel good drug/mood enhancer)
    • Uses fewer muscles than a frown (7 v. 21 facial muscles)
    • Usually gets a smile in return
    • Universally understood and accepted (no language barrier) – speaks to fundamental needs (to be liked, appreciated, respected)
Impact of Worlds
  • Worlds to Use
    • Yes, I can | I’d be happy to | Certainly | My pleasure | I understand | Let me explain | Here’s the reason
    • Cushion words – “Where’s the bathroom?” – “I’d be happy too, it’s out that door…” – “It’s my pleasure, it’s out that door…” – “Okay sure, it’s…” – “No problem…”
    • Small modification that surprises people in a positive way.
    • If someone asks a question, they deserve an answer.
    • Be an explainer rather than an enforcer.  Be an educator.  “Here’s the reason we ask you do this…”
    • Connect us with customers – Please Bother Me!
  • Words to Lose
    • No, I’m busy | You’ll have to | You need to | Come back later | You don’t understand | That’s the rule | It’s our policy
    • Habit to use “you need to”  – INSTEAD start with “we” or “I” or “the Library”
    • Breaks down communication. Instead of ‘you can’t bring that in here.’ Say, ‘Carts can’t be brought into the restroom. It’s a violation of fire code.’ – Be an educator or explainer.
    • “The cell phone is disturbing to others, we have an area there.”  “The library has a policy about cell phone use, because it can be disturbing, we ask that it be used in this area.”  The phone is the problem, not the person.  The cart was the problem, not the shopper.
    • Less is more:  Please (no cell phone image) Thank You – little sign (I’m not a big fan of the red “no” circle on signs) – But, definitely like that he added “Please” and “Thank You” to the signs
    • Have an answer to questions “Why do I need ID to get a library card?”
      “So no one else can get materials out on your card – identity theft.”  (Use Assets instead of Items).  We need to be responsible for tracking our assets, so others can also use the library assets.
    • Have Simple and Clear Explanations for all Policies that the frontline staff understand and know – Reasons for the policies rather than just “that’s the policy.”  Use empathy – information is respect.  Manager’s responsibility to share these logical explanation of policies and procedures.
    • You elevate your value to the customer as an educator.  People ask because they want an answer.  (He’s pretty impassioned about this.  Tough on the ‘this is policy’ folks.)
    • Give a customer-centered explanation.  Fix the service, not the blame.  Certain legal restrictions – what is the real reason we have to close at a certain time?  Liability. (not sure about that, but need to know the answer to that question)  Want to abide by our legal obligations – like close at our posted time.
Value of Thank You – Thank you opportunities:
  • for asking | for waiting | for noticing | for telling me | for cooperating | for your help | for letting me know | for your support | for reminding me | for the suggestion
  • Stay connected by thanking people
  • Under what circumstances can you use “Thank you for waiting” – person waiting in line, waiting on the phone, waiting for a reply
Customer Magic
  • What delights customers more than anything else?  A Surprise – making good impressions – something pleasant they didn’t expect.
  • Making a Good Impression Counts = MAGIC
  • Opportunities to surprise:
    • Connect – how do we greet them? do we smile? do we ask if we can help?
    • Contribute – What do we do to help them? How do we deal with their issue? How do we handle a complaint?  Fix the problem, not the blame!
    • Conclude – Thank them for coming, wish them a nice day, See if they are leaving happy
  • Practice Makes Permanent
    • Situation: Two forms of ID to issue a library card – Customer wants to know why?  Find a customer friendly way to explain:  “Absolutely, let me explain…”  Linda Hall required a credit card and they have a good explanation for it – not tax supported or affiliated with an institution, willing to work with you to get that lost book back, but this is for ‘insurance’
    • Situation: Cell phone use restricted to a designated area – End with “Thank you for your cooperation.” (I used the privacy/eavesdropping joke explanation)
Lunch…(that I didn’t eat. Had another bagel instead…good thing I get to go eat/drink with Kelly, the new Director of the Tonganoxie Public Library.)
Email and Telephone 
  • ABCs, CCC’s of making a good impression, smile on the phone, tone of voice
  • The Hard Rock Telephone Greeting – “How may I rock your world today?”
  • “Thank you for caring enough to call.”  “IF I don’t call you back, you are one of the changed.”  (tee hee)
  • Are customer friendly words being used when folks answer the phone?
  • “May I speak with the Library Director?” – Hold on, please hold, just a sec, who’s calling, where are you calling from, is she expecting your call, one moment, just one moment, (ugh – these are horrid)
  • We don’t pay attention to the ‘manner in which we are conducting our jobs.’
  • Give information – anticipate questions and give the answers. (Need to pick up a hold? share the library’s hours, so they know when they need to pick it up by.)
  • 17 minute orientation DVD (under $100 from MLNC – maybe good for the NEKLS professional collection).
  • Tone of voice – friendly, courteous, give your name, give more than what they’ve asked for, ask if they need anything else and say THANK YOU
  • “Certainly, please hold while I connect you to circulation. They can help you with that. Thank you!”
  • Great card on Telephone MAGIC – suggestions for how to answer, put someone on hold, retrieving a call on hold, transferring a call and concluding a call.
    • Be polite, ask if you can put them on hold, thank them for waiting, say “I’d be happy to connect you” and “Is there anything else I can help you with?”
    • Be consistent – is there a script for answer the library phone?  Practice, make it easy, ‘In the spirit of continuous improvement, we’ve been looking and feel that one area for growth is how we answer the phones…so let’s work on a script that we are all comfortable using.’
    • Try to use a person’s name.  “Is this Alice?” “Hi Alice, this is Steve.” “Alice, I need to ask…” – a habit of Steve’s to say a person’s name 3 times on the phone
Being e-friendly
External communication – wording on a Item due notice “The following item is due to be returned to its respective lending locations by October 24.” “Please do not reply to this email.”
  • Look at how things are set up – can we maintain a connection and allow a way to Reply.
  • How do we add a link to the library – customize it
  • Reminder Notice – the word “Notice” has connotations are very negative.  Could be a friendly reminder.
  • Koha, how can we find a way to get rid of the “Please do not reply” statement (without creating 3 unique notices for each of our 35 libraries)?
  • Sample Holds Waiting notice:
    • “Congratulations! We are pleased to let you know that “Your Wonderful Library” has arrived, and is ready to be picked up at the circulation desk.  If you have any questions, please give us a call at XXX.  Go to the following link for our hours or call us…
      Thank you for using our library loan service.
      All my love….(heheh)”
Internal Communication – “Patron complaint” “I have been notified of several recent patron complaints. There will be a meeting tmrw at 5 in the conference room to discuss the matter. Plan to attend!”
  • In teams, how can we improve this message?
  • Constructed with thoughtful wording to encourage participation, showing respect, etc.
External Communication – What you write to your clients, co-workers,
  • Message to Steve from a customer “After checking my sent box I realize the email I sent you yesterday did not go through…”
  • Have a thoughtful subject in the email (avoid “No subject”)
  • Proofread – “I we writing” oops.  Spell check, punctuation, spaces
  • Read for message and logic – “I am out of work, but you can reach me…” Huh?
  • Add a respectful closing
  • Connotation of the message / impact: sloppy
  • Email Reminders
    • Check email often
    • Respond promptly
    • Make meaningful impressions: Connect, Contribute, Conclude
    • Spell check
    • Check grammar, punctuation
    • Check for intent, as well as content
    • Reread (aloud) before sending
    • Ask for someone else to read the draft (like Mickey, who can spell)
  • Takes dedication, effort, time and patience
  • Healthy to change and try new things
  • Separates ordinary from the exceptional – practice is the mother of skill
  • Develops habits of performance

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