Friday, January 07, 2011

Serving the 21st Century Patron 2010 Online Conference, Part One: Staying Committed to Great Customer Service When Your Library is in Chaos

Pat Wagner has been helping libraries in crisis since 1975, so she knows whereof she speaks. These days, there are more and more staff and patrons in emotional crisis than ever. While we cannot hope for chaos to just miraculously stop, we can use certain project management tricks to help.

Things to remember:

  1. Somebody has to be the adult.
  2. People get stressed out in a time of change because they lose mastery & status--they have to learn new things--maybe what you were best at isn't as important anymore or has been superseded by technology.
  3. When things are crazy, don't forget it's all about the customer.
  4. Have compassion for other people.

Things to avoid:

  1. Getting addicted to drama--why be obsessed by someone something you don't like?
  2. Sarcasm-it’s a barrier to self-knowledge.
  3. Venting doesn't work--Our bodies get addicted to the "flight or fight chemicals" that venting releases. Also, venting is too public--it creates an audience for people's mistakes--they can't back off their behavior.

What can help:

  1. People should get the same service no matter what time they come in--remember, patrons are used to businesses with 24 hour service by phone and online.
  2. Play fair-- no exceptions for people you like.
  3. Rules should be written--new staff shouldn't have to guess.
  4. If someone has a really long hard question, ask them to write down the steps needed. It will help them understand how tough it is. Maybe a one-on-one librarian session?
  5. Use good humor and cartoons for signs--don't point fingers at people.
  6. A workplace coach.

Wagner’s thought can be summarized as: “Don’t be a jerk.” A jerk is a person who is indifferent or unaware of their behavior.

Recommended books:

What You Can Change and What You Can't--Martin Seligman

The New Peoplemaking ---Virginia Satir

An archived version of the webinar, links, and slides are available here.

There was also a lively discussion on chat about the similarities and differences between Wagner’s philosophy and FISH! Both are customer-oriented, but the play aspect of the latter could lead to sarcasm and hurtful humor if taken too far.

--Andrea @Central

1 comment:

Barb P.@HI said...

Thank you, Andrea. This was a useful post with good information.