PLA 2018: It’s Not About the Desk

Megan Rosen and Susan Brown, Chapel Hill Public Library | 3/22/18 10:45 am | It’s Not About the Desk: Service Philosophy/Design/Delivery

Happy to share that Susan worked at Lawrence Public Library (KS) and was a friend and colleague. She’s been at Chapel Hill for 5 years, to my 6 at HVL. We have fond memories of 2012 PLA here in Philadelphia.

Presentation actually about organizational change.  It’s not “moonlight and canoes” – it’s really hard. True change is a process – it’s about collaboration and cooperation and empowering people. Takes empathy, curiosity, compassion, and thinking differently about what we do and why we do it.

Moving product in and out, while providing service to 2,000 visitors every day in a pretty, new building.  But biggest strategic goal was to focus on people and service:  Human-Centered Design.  New building had an enormous “Titanic” single service desk (not designed for the user in mind, but a beautiful building). Created for Circulation and Reference to co-locate, but without cross-training, so patrons had to be shifted off.

Encouraged staff to get from behind the desk, but with limited success. “We are too busy to improve” attitude among staff. None of the change means the old way was bad, it’s a statement on the present and future. “Leadership on the Line” – technical v. adaptive change – changing the mindset. IMLS Grant received  – Useful, Usable, Desirable author came and worked with them over the year. From new Web site, collection layout, and new Service desk…but learned they didn’t have the foundation upon which to build those improvements. User-Focused Design – for them, not us. “We are Not Our Patrons” Invited staff to collaborate on process – teams to attack ‘things’ starting with mission/values. What are we in this business for?  Service Pledge for staff: “You are our top priority.”

Service Pledge – Not just a poster in the office – pull staff together to talk about the Service Pledge.  What does “friendly” mean to you?  Different definitions among staff – workshops helped with open, frank conversation to determine what the pledge looks like and where to experiment. Involved accountability and immediate feedback/coaching in the moment – that’s the leadership challenge. It’s our job “If you see something, say something.” Make expectations crystal clear.  Pointing example. Good poor excellent customer service map with Cheryl Gould.  Performance measures for friendly customer service. “Fully engaged Customer Service”  

Policy Alignment – reworked policies to be agnostic.  Help us understand your client and build our empathy. These folks aren’t ‘giving you’ a hard time, they are ‘having’ a hard time. Big shift in thinking. Big signs with fewer words – good idea for everyone, including the visually impaired. Coach staff to believe people, don’t police people, just give them a card instead of sending them home for a utility bill.  Susan couldn’t get a card because she had $40 in fines from 8 years ago – paid it. Start waiving fines, believe people, blow up dumb policies (book limits, for example).

Rules of Behavior – 21 items long – as people did naughty things, they were added to the list. “No staring at staff.” “No moving the furniture.” “No smoking, no crack, no guns.” and ‘No breaking the law.” Painful process and interesting conversation – instead of rules, have a tool for staff to feel empowered to take action and effect change when something bad is happening.  New Expectations for Behavior – “No breaking the law.” Super simple – involves the police s a partner. Staff embracing and using situational ethics. Examples: Sleeping at the library – role played with person asleep with all stuff hanging out. Wake him up and alert him that it’s not safe to have all his stuff out. Pregnant woman sleeping next to hubby working – she’s safe.

Service Pods (broke up desk).  The Five Why’s – Get at the actual problem.  Staff worried about lines of patrons.  Library card renewal procedure the root cause of a problem with people using the self-check.  Helped address the “We are too busy to change” issue – what are we doing that is busy work?  Blocking patron record at $5, short card registration renewal. What drives patrons to a staff member?  Most were frustrated patrons who couldn’t use the self-checks. And broke down the lines.

Staff & User Tools

  • Computing team made all computers the same (got rid of PC Reservation) and created “research stations” (Quick look ups – assets that do multiple things.)
    • We do this already, except they also provide staff access to ILS on these. – LEAP??
  • When people call, they get a real person 90% of the time. Cordless phone.
    • We do this already, woot.
  • Staff Badges – Big, bright, easy to read.
  • Service Points – “?!?” Tools throughout the building, so service point provides delightful service in line with pledge.  Design Challenge – furniture in line with service pledge but within the footprint of existing overhead light fixture! New desk – staff and patron work side by side, has a bench for the person waiting with the patron behind helped, designed to be a tool or a landing pad.

Compassion, Curiosity, and Empathy.

Q&A –

How did you get staff together? Repeated training and meetings. Only staff development day closed. Form teams of 3-5. Role of team to communicate about their work.

How many staff at the big desk? Where will they go with new desk? First was built for 4 people, but only ever staffed 2. No more sitting at the desk, just there when helping the users.  Staff count hasn’t changed, but scheduling changed. Desk = “Welcome hub” – Staff engage people on the floor and use service points out in the library. Unlocked self-checks and can log into staff side of ILS from them to help patrons there.

Staff who are not naturally helpful or friendly – Frowny natural resting face. We can’t legislate her face, but am more concerned about the staff member who is nasty when angry with patrons.  Help ‘coach them right out the door.’

Did staff feel less safe when desk was broke up?  Yes. Being out and about doesn’t feel safe, but the best security is being out and about and friendly to patrons!  “I’m around.”  Being out there is a deterrent. Try something and see how it goes to effect change. Focus on user and not on self.

Work at the Desk issue…Takes time to address. Have to change the way people think and fix obstacles and then blow up the desk. If are doing back of house work in front of house, that’s a problem. Give staff time to get work done where it should be done.  They are not being friendly,  helpful, and engaged if doing work and not helping patrons!

How can we find a way, with small staffs – the Five Whys – is there work they are doing that they do not need to be doing?

Did the patrons need to be retrained? Yes, some were unhappy to lose the desk (for aesthetic reasons). Used go-pro to see if people where wandering helplessly – not the case. We can’t train patrons, we have to adapt to user needs and design for humans!

If you need to make a user guide or signs, you need to rethink it!

Check out their web site – very user-friendly – giant buttons above the fold. Data-driven UX tumbler – used a month to see what patrons used the web site for. Only 4 tasks. User-focused web site, not marketing. All about allowing people to do what they want to do!  Give them what they want.

Mission Values and Pledge and Staff Engagement – then the staff transitioned into the new design/furniture.  Service to Delivery Evolution.  Experimenting, training, discussion among staff to reinforce the changes.

The Where Log – Staff wrote down verbatum what people asked at the desk. Measured over time and then made changes, and came up with new signage plan. Prototyping and testing. White board on lobby and asked patrons to vote – A/B Testing.

 

 

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