The Customer-Centered Library: How to stop tweaking and start doing it with new steps for 2007

 The Customer-Centered LibraryKaren Hyman, South Jersey Library Cooperative
Columbus Public Library, Columbus, NE

  • After today’s session you will…
    • see from the customer’s point of view
    • focus on user needs and expectations
    • development & implement things that support a customer centered library
    • operate the library for the convenience of your customer
    • make customer service a way of life
  • What makes a library really great?
    • money?
    • size?
    • luck?
    • use?
    • Really great for whom?
  • Customer’s have choices
    • Movies on demand
    • WiFi @ Starbucks
    • Cell phones & PDAs
  • The big fear
    • libraries (and what they can offer) will be irelevant and invisible to the majority of people
  • New opportunities to…
    • provide value-added service
    • embrace new roles
    • be a “third place”
    • take the library to new people
    • fail to take advantage of new opportunities
    • provide poor service in new and irritating wasy
  • Value added equals
    • current
    • relevant
    • in tune with customer needs
    • beneficial from the customer’s point of view
    • defined by the quality of the result
  • Service can be your competitive edge
    • intelligent
    • responsive
    • personal
  • Quote from OCLC Perspectives report
  • Customer service basics
    • first, do no harm
    • everyone here is an expert on customer service because everyone here is a customer
    • get a grip
  • Of course there are other strategies
    • you can change riders
    • you can get a committee to study the dead horse
    • you can benchmark how other companies rise dead horses
    • you can declare that it’s cheaper to feed a dead horse
    • you car harness several dead horses together
  • But after you’ve tried all of these things, you’re still going to have to dismount
  • change
    • some people love change
      • excitement
      • anticipation
      • curiosity
    • some people hate change
      • dread
      • disorientation

      • loss
    • nobody gets to choose how they feel
    • dealing with change is a learned skill
    • all predicitions haev equal value
    • we can all join each other on the edge of the unknown
  • Step one: Care
    • Caring
      • some people just care
      • some people just don’t
      • most of us fall in the middle
      • caring and not caring is contageous
      • blaming is the enemy of caring
      • everything flows from caring
    • the key to quality customer service is creative problem solving
    • the key to quality problem solving is having a problem
    • most care more when we…
      • know and like the other person
      • don’t feel tired
      • don’t feel threatened
      • aren’t having a bad day
      • get support and rewards for caring
      • take pride in caring, or appearing to care
    • try caring
      • can improve your day
      • uses your skills
      • can increase energy
      • can be fun
      • you’re paid to care
      • make it a habit, and caring gets easier.
    • caring begets attention, attention begets curiosity and curiosity is the fount from which all knowledge flows
  • Step two: Think like a customer
    • why don’t we think like customers?
      • we work at the library
      • we don’t understand the customer
      • we’re not trying hard enough
      • we don’t focus on results
      • we hear but don’t listen
      • we think we know better
      • we don’t see options as options
    • when you think like a customer you…
      • put yourself in their place
      • make it your business to see results for the customer
      • make customer service a way of life and a part of every decision
  • step three: see the problem(s)
    • to define problems from the customer’s perspective…
      • somebody wants something and they’re not getting it
      • somebody’s getting something they don’t want
  • step four: change your approach, not the customer
    • why not change the customer?
      • what do you do with someone who…?
      • why can’t people…?
      • shouldn’t people…?
      • people used to…?
      • children used to…?
      • Because you can’t!

    • ditch the rules
      • have a bonfire for the signs
      • root out negatives
      • solve problems when they happen
      • work as a team
      • what are the rules?
      • do we really need this rule at all?
      • can we say the same thing in a more positive way
      • share expectations and look again
    • to change your approach
      • provide customers the opportunities to do what you want
        • skateboard rack
        • baskets for books
      • try doing what they want
        • express checkout
        • eating in the library
    • when it comes to customer service…
      • every choice has a down side
      • err on the side of customer services that is positive, welcoming, and empowering for the consumer
  • step five: abandon victimhood
    • is your library a culture of victimhood?
      • we never get any more money
      • we never get any respect
      • why are we always the last to know?
      • nobody understands all the great things we do
      • we always have to clean up after these slobs
    • Victimhood…
      • obscures facts
      • is powerless
      • is personal
      • saps your energy
      • takes you nowhere
    • Try telling the same story in a different way

  • Step six: Organize your library to support quality service
    • to support quality service
      • easy to use continuous communication system
        • morning briefings
        • library blogs
        • whiteboard in staff area
        • email to customers
        • newsletters, recommendations

        • flexible, helpful, friendly signage
      • create systems that support consistent great service
      • make it fun
      • create a supporting culture for risk, flexibility, curiosity, etc.

      • set specific targets & measure results
    • Deliver the goods

  • step seven: walk through everything
    • walk through every process
      • in the building, on the web, phone
      • to share the customer’s experience
      • to see what works and what doesn’t
      • to get your vendors on the customers’ side
    • to five vendor responses
      • the default is…
      • go to another source for support
      • help notes explain that in section. 1.A.3(b)7

      • it works here
      • nobody else has complained
    • in your library
      • what makes it easy to find things
      • what makes it difficult to find things
      • what alerts or obscures possibilities

      • what makes navigation a breeze or a chore
    • easy/alerts to possibilities

      • very open, spacious, neat, etc
      • shelves well organized and documented
      • overhead signs in adult stacks
      • natural light, large windows
      • large signs on soffits
    • difficult, obscures possibilities
      • lobby is dark & dull
      • “NO” signs in the library
      • nothing hits you when you walk in
      • no encouragement to ask for help
      • etc…
    • self service library
      • easy and intuitive

      • helpful & friendly signage
      • alerts to possibilities

      • direct online interaction
      • self-checkout
      • drive-up window
      • 24/7/365 access
  • step eight: Get the book into the customers’ hands
    • if books are the brand, what could you be doing with books that you’re not doing now?
      • reduce processing time
      • grab-and-go collection
      • buy when it’s fast and affordable
      • float the collection
      • Netflix model
      • Weed!
      • merchandise the collection

    • Through merchandising you can
      • transform the library experience
      • find out what sells
      • sell what you want to buy
      • find out what nobody will read as part of the everyday process
      • make it easier for your public to discover materials, “impulse buy”
      • make it a little harder for your staff to find specific titles
    • [photos of merchandising examples]
  • Step nine: Transform the library experience
    • find five things that would surprise and delight your customers and put them in the center
    • a warm, inviting 21st century environment
      • has a greeter
      • comfortable
      • allows food
      • provides public computers & WiFi
      • allows cell phones
      • avoids too many rules
    • the destination library
      • enjoyable, friendly, fun environment
      • comfortable seating
      • extended hours
      • hi tech, hi touch
      • browsing, book clubs, author events
      • drop in story hours
      • supports personal use of technology
      • community center
      • fosters collegiality
    • serve kids
      • does your children’s area have a percentage of floor space that equals their percentage of circulation?
      • play fair
  • Step ten: Overcome overdues
    • reexamining the rules
      • pay when $10 threshold is reached
      • Fine Free Fridays

      • no overdues — but we love donations

      • courtesy reminders — consider Library Elf
      • multiple renewals
      • new motto: “Late is great!”
  • step eleven: take the library to the people
    • have an online application process and mail the card with the library info
      • provide live online services
      • put satellite libraries in the community
      • experiment with mobile communication to cellphone & PDA
      • [screenshots of examples]
  • Step twelve: Make something happen
    • did anything happen?
      • depends on results for the customer, not the library
      • depends on fit with everyday life of the customer
      • how many things have to “go right” for this to work?

    • focus on results for the customer will help you to…
      • chose among the flawed options
      • avoid “compromises” that produce no results
      • handle the down side of a great choice
      • do the extra work that makes a real difference
    • 5 things you can start today
      • look at the rules and remove or restate

      • look at what people want & find ways to deliver it. ask them and listen when they answer

      • walk through your building and fix what doesn’t work for the customer
      • incorporate customer service into every decision and problem solving process
      • treat every customer like a person

Breakout groups: Five things your library can do to surprise your customers


  • Suggestion box
  • free paperback for every $1 in fines paid
  • address customer by name
  • more color in the library (too much tan)

  • MySpace page
  • check out off items: GPS, Projectors, Laptops
  • WiFi
  • “Check Us Out” sign
  • Gaming Night
  • AccuCut machine for public use
  • No fines
  • Allow cell phones
  • Automatic reminders
  • Recommendations in the OPAC
  • Put holds in an ordered queue
  • More classes for the public
  • Audio book during a knitting circle
  • Open 5-midnight one night
  • 5-cent fine on unfriendly staff
  • Live mystery at the library
  • DVD checkout length as book
  • group computer space
  • public fax machine
  • food allowed area
  • fine free day
  • cake pans
  • door greeter / roving staff member

  • allow food
  • emphasize the e-resources
  • teen hangout
  • “We settle bar bets”
  • new baby program
  • book delivery program
  • movie nights
  • Director “open door”
  • treat drawer
  • no rural membership fee

  • background music


 


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