The first step in improving your space is understanding what you already have. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, and enlisting the help of someone who isn’t a regular library user for a “secret shopper”-style visit will provide some great information. A secret shopper is someone who comes into the library posing as a patron with the aim of evaluating the service—either something very specific or the library experience in general. They make extensive notes after the visit and report back to the management (or whoever commissioned the visit). This is a technique used extensively in business—retail and restaurants in particular.
Posts Tagged ‘good customer service’
UX, or user experience, is a hot topic in the library world, but what does it mean in practical terms? This series of articles will aim to demystify the concepts of user experience, design thinking, and human-centered design for public librarians. A common misperception is that you need a lot of time and money to embark on a program of integrating these ideas into your library—far from it. The key is to shift your thinking and consider every aspect of service from the user’s point of view. Everything from your voicemail message to your policy manual plays a part.
It’s no secret to librarians that many patrons come to the library for more than our collections. Most people can find books and DVDs online. They can use our research databases without getting out of bed. For reference questions they can call, email, text, or instant message. We have reference resources that don’t circulate, and anyone who’s worked in a children’s room knows that parents don’t want to buy the thirty-five books their child wants that day, so coming to the library can be a life (and pocketbook) saver. Still, many patrons who come in the door don’t, strictly speaking, need our services. Many come for another free service we provide, albeit indirectly: human contact.
Every decade or so, I complete a career check. I don’t know if you do the same, but I find it’s a way for me to measure who I am against what I do. Now, since I’m in the fourth quarter of my life’s game, I really shouldn’t bother, but if I don’t stop measuring and evaluating, I’ll stop learning and growing, and that just doesn’t appeal to me. So, I trotted out the old question, “Am I happy with what I’m doing?” and set up my check list.
Can public libraries use “Structured Debate” to re-examine our sacred cows and keep pace with our rapidly transforming service models? Elaborate displays, traditional book clubs, bulging, outdated collections – how can we proactively respond to opportunities and challenges?
An informal observation of library websites and policies shows that even leading public libraries are evenly split between the use of customer and patron in their formal taxonomy. The traditional term patron is used by New York Public Library (NYPL), Cuyahoga County (OH) Public Library, Seattle Public Library, and Multnomah County (OR) Library. The terms customer and user can be found in the policies of Denver Public Library, Topeka Shawnee (KS) County Library, Columbus (OH) Metropolitan Library, King County (WA) Library, and Anythink Libraries in Colorado.
Achieving excellent customer service requires a culture change in your library organization that is driven internally through the engagement and validation of staff. The complex subjects of behavior change and persuasion have been studied as far back as the ancient Greeks. Aristotle’s seven causes of human motivation conclude that insight alone does not produce behavior change. A person’s behavior will only change when that person’s beliefs change.