Posts Tagged ‘accountability’

Customer Service Series

A month or so ago I posted a blurt on customer service and asked everyone to give their definition of good customer service. The comments posted had some good content but the lack of comments left were disappointing. As a public library we thrive on good customer service, or at least we should. In light of this priority, I wanted to begin a small series focused on customer service. I will highlight a few articles I have found and hopefully good discussion will ensue.

The first installment comes from a book I discovered while conducting some research for a research class. My topic deals with public access computers and their correlation to library use. I found a book that dealt with managing public access computers and hit the jackpot. One section that caught my attention, for us and not the paper, dealt with handling complaints. We all know that having public access computers in our buildings makes us highly susceptible to patron complaints. These complaints can sometimes have a completely negative effect on us and our work and also how we deal with the next patron. So when I found the section quoted below I knew everyone needed to read it. The section may be a little lengthy but well worth the time.

Handling Complaints (for working with the public and public-access computers)
1. Listen
a. “Start by letting the person with the complaint state their case with little or no interruption from you.”
2. Repeat what the other person says
a. “Starting with the phrase like “Let me see if I understand this…,” restate in your own words your understanding of what the other person said. If the other person agrees that you understand the situation, you say something like, “I sympathize with your frustration” (which is not the same thing as saying you think their complaint is justified).
3. Explain the library’s position
a. “While it should not be your purpose to win a debate with the other person, as an employee of the library it is your job to explain the library’s position—even if you do not happen to agree with it 100%.”
4. Make promises carefully
a. “Make a promise only if you are absolutely sure you can keep it. Never makes promises you cannot keep and avoid making promises in the heat of the moment.”
5. Admit the person is right (when appropriate)
a. “Sometimes complaints are justified, and there is nothing wrong with admitting the other person is right.”
6. Offer alternatives
a. “Alternatives that may seem obvious to you are not necessarily obvious to your users, so offering an alternative or two is always a good idea.”
7. Know when to quit
a. “Discussions can reach the point where they become pointless. At such times, it is necessary to break off and send the complaint up the organizational ladder.”
8. Close on a positive note
a. “If you have not done so already, wind up by asking the person with the complaint for ideas on how to improve the situation. Be sure to thank the other person for their feedback and to take down the information you need to contact them later.”

Barclay, Donald A. Managing Public-Access Computers. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc., 2000. (pp. 199 – 200)

I know that every situation will not play out in exactly this manner but some good pointers are given. Hopefully this will help you the next time you have to handle a complaint.

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Email Conduct

Just as a reminder, the emails we send are not confidential. All emails go through the county server therefore making them open to anyone who has access to the aforementioned server. They are also never erased and therefore can be forever accessed. With this said, be careful with what you say in an email. What you say can always come back to bite you, well you know where. It is always a good practice to not say something in an email that you would not say to that person face-to-face.

Cash Drawer

Catherine worked on the deposit today and noticed many mistakes over the last week and a half. There were many times when the drawer was short, and more than just some change. There are a couple of different ways to elevate this problem. First, slow down when putting money into the drawer. I know it gets very busy and hectic at times on the front desk but it would really help to just slow down and make sure you are punching in the correct amount and also giving back the correct change. Second, everyone needs to be using the change counter on the drawer. If you do not know how to do this I will be showing everyone how to use it. I won’t do it here because it might be too confusing. 

In regards to the cash drawer when it is short the staff that worked that day and used the drawer will have to make up the difference if there is a shortage. This coincides with the accountability that starts July 1. If you have any questions please do not be afraid to ask. Thanks!