Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Top 10 Customer Service Skills for Library Staff.

Marianne Lenox posted a list of customer service skills on her blog, and the first one gives me problems:

1. Greet every customer. Every single patron deserves your eye contact: A smile and a hello are even better.

Actually, I agree with that exact level of customer contact. But don't make me do more than that. One of my real pet peeves is being excessively greeted. I absolutely hate walking into a place to hear someone call out, "Welcome to Schmooly's!"

Employees are always doing this now, right in the middle of whatever they are currently working on. So if I need help, this is what happens:

Welcome to Schmooly's!
Hi, I just need..
I'll be with you in a minute; I'm with another customer.
But you just said, 'Welcome to Schmooly's.' Why would you greet me then ignore me? That doesn't make any sense.

If it's your little store, you can say, "Hi, I'll be with you in a minute." That fills two purposes. One, that you let me know you know I'm in your shop, and two, that you're too busy to stop me from shoplifting a few things then running out. Ooh, handmade note cards.

I've been to meetings about this where the complaint has been, "Make sure you greet every customer!" I do. "Well, you don't do it fast enough."

I greet people as I'm ready to help them. My greeting says, "Hi, I am ready to help you. Now. Yes, right now. Get your ass over here before I leave on break."

I would never say, "Hey, how's it going? Welcome to the library." And then keep walking as the patron asks for help. "Sorry, but there's something more important than you that needs my attention. But, Welcome to the library!"

I think it becomes a problem when my supervisor expects shopping mall behavior. I think it's because I assume people want some privacy while they look at their porn, or their research. If our library attempts to adopt more "fun" ways to greet customers, I'm going to buy a stuffed animal and chuck it at people as they enter the library. "It's fun!" I'll say as I deck an old lady with my stuffed moose. "Welcome to the library!"

The same goes with, 10. Thank them for using the library. I'm not sure when I can fit this into my reference transactions. How about when I'm trying to close up at night?

We'll be closing in five minutes.
We'll be closing in four minutes.
We'll be closing in three minutes.
We'll be closing in two minutes.
We'll be closing in one minute.
The library is now closed. You are all trespassing on government property, which is a felony. The police have been called. Enjoy your time in jail. Thank you for using the library!

I'd like to suggest some alternate Customer Service Skills, but I think I need your help. All I can come up with so far are these:
  1. Don't make eye contact.
  2. Don't mention the smell.
  3. Don't pay attention to the heavy breathing near the magazines.
  4. Avoid saying "No," it just makes them angry. Say, "Yes, I'll be with you as soon as I stop screaming."
  5. Don't feed the insane.
  6. No, there's no monster behind you; your customer has a lazy eye.
  7. Never let them see you bleed.
  8. Don't eat a big lunch before you have a long desk schedule.
  9. Librarians should back each other up because there's safety in numbers.
And the most important one:
Don't whine: you have a job when most of your customers don't.