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4/09/2007

Just some thoughts on customer service ...

Over the past month I’ve found myself in the middle of several discussions about how to improve customer service. It’s not that the customer service we provide at the library is bad – on the contrary, our patron polls consistently give us high marks in customer friendliness – but as we strive as an organization to become more customer-centric, there’s always room to make improvements.

In comparing notes with colleagues that have worked in other highly customer-focused industries (most notably the high-end department store retail market and 5-star hotel industry), I’ve been thinking a lot about some of the basic tenets of libraries and have found myself wondering this ...

... if in striving as an organization to treat all library users equally, do we miss the opportunity to treat them special (as individuals) ?

I know there’s a fine line between these two ideas and many might argue differently. But as we look at continually improving our customer service I have to ask … shouldn’t we really give up concentrating on improving overall customer service, and instead focus our energies on making sure each individual user walks away from the library feeling special ?

Obviously I don't have all the answers. But I think it's good to ask the questions. What do you think? Are these ideals the same or can they contradict ?

PS: Stephanie, I know this doesn’t quite address your question about the definition of customer experience, but I think it does make a stab in the right direction. And if you'd ask me to pinpoint the goal in creating great customer experiences, I think the answer is simple; it's to help customers feel good about themselves. :)

1 comment:

Jeff said...

That is an excellent point. We do focus on trying to treat each customer equally, but then they do not feel special.

We recently had customer training at my library and its the little things that make the patron special. Knowing their interests, using their name, and trying to make their experience 1% better (FISH).

We have always had good customer service, but we improved it just a little bit by the individualized service. I didn't think it was making a difference, but I saw each staff member using the techniques they learned in the class, it made a world of difference in the experience. It is sometimes a perception issue if you allow the patron to do something he or she thinks that only they are allowed to do.