Providing excellent customer service and delighting the customer is the top of mind for me lately. At Computers in Libraries 2015 keynote speakers emphasized delighting the customer. You can read more about their presentations & see the videos:
Steve Denning, Author, The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management
Video (you can skip the promo at the beginning!): http://www.libconf.com/2015/04/27/continuous-innovation-and-transformation-the-opening-keynote/
John Palfrey, Head of School, Phillips Academy, Board President of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) & Author, BiblioTECH: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google
But why is customer service or delighting the customer so important? Customer service fosters a good relationship between customers and the organization and leads to keeping or engaging those customers. Without customers there is no business or support in the case of non-profits like libraries. Reducing a customer’s stress, giving them a pleasant customer experience, and providing information that can solve their problem is all important to keep positive customer satisfaction (the overall contentment with a customer interaction). Excellent customer service involves providing outstanding service that meets (or exceeds) the customer’s expectations — it delights the customer. Excellent customer service also includes having a great attitude and being people centered or customers focused. So in addition to knowing your customer really well, and understanding their true expectations (making no assumptions), what do you need for good customer service?
- Develop the skills to be successful
- Assess the current level of customer service (customer satisfaction surveys, secret shoppers for example)
- Empower empl0yees to make decisions to benefit customers
- Use technology & current information systems to provide excellent customer service
- Continuous examination of individual & organization performance — self-awareness!
Libraries have a leg up with customer service as they are known as credible institutions, but one bad customer experience can change that perception and encourage that customer to tell others. How often have you told your network about bad customer experiences you have had? How often have you told a positive customer experience story?
I’m very excited that the University of Toronto iSchool is hosting a symposium on Customer Service For Libraries: Upping Our Game! on Thursday & Friday July 16 & 17. It will be covering the importance of customer service, how to listen to and understand the customer and their expectations, how to start customer service initiatives, the new technology that helps improve customer service, as well experiences of libraries with successful customer service programs and their impact.