Customer Service Training

Q. A few weeks ago, I happened to visit another library and was startled by the rude service from the front desk staff.  I'd like to be sure that no one would say the same about my library! Where can I get some information on excellent public service in libraries in order to do some in-service training?

A. We've all heard that old saying, "good service will keep one customer, but bad service will lose you ten," and it's true for libraries, as well as for business.  In this day and age, a bad experience can be communicated even faster via social media (note item 16 in this video from Socialnomics).  With this in mind, many libraries are instituting programs leading to high expectations in providing service to those who use our libraries--whether we call them customers, patrons, readers, visitors, or library users. You probably want to use a multi-pronged approach, combining in-service training with a consultant, external workshops, and readings.  For some self paced training, see one of the two eCourses from ALA Editions (one is streaming video, the other on Moodle)

Good customer service has common features across types of organizations, so readings from the standard business literature--works such as Good to Great, by Jim Collins, or even something like Inside the Magic Kingdom: Seven Keys to Disney's Success, by Tom Connellan--are useful along with those targeted specifically for libraries. We've collected some resources of both kinds on our customer service page -- after all as the training module for the Houston Area Library System says, "Great customer service is a significant part of library public relations and contributes to creating and maintaining community awareness of the value of the library."

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