Friday, July 31, 2009

What's your "coolest" customer service experience?

We've been interviewing candidates for a part time position in the Reference Department. Because we stress good customer service, we ask all candidates this question: As a customer, what’s the “coolest” thing that’s happened to you?

People really have to stop and think. They can readily tell you about a bad experience, but they can't recall a "cool" one. Why is this? Why do we easily remember times when we've been disappointed with service, and quickly forget when service has been special. Why does a person have a bad experience and tell ten people, but a good experience goes unsung. I'm sure psychologists have studied this, but I don't know the answer.

We also ask our candidates: Tell me three things you think would delight most library patrons. We get a lot of answers to this one, and some common themes emerge: a staff that's approachable and helpful, phone calls returned promptly, personal reading recommendations, and services that help people improve their lives. Great answers and right in line with our philosophy.

We think most of our patrons are happy with our customer service. At least that's what we hear though the grapevine and in our daily interaction with people. Building conditions aside, most people have a positive experience when they visit the Merrimack Public Library. But we're not perfect, and we know that there are times when a policy or procedure frustrates someone, or a staff member is having a challenging day and might be a little less helpful, or a request can't be filled immediately.

What do you do when that happens? Do you go out and tell ten people? We'd rather you tell us--the Library Director or a department supervisor--so we can listen to you. We'll do our best to make things right or at least make sure you understand why we can't change something. We want your feedback, and we'll be flexible when we can be to make sure you leave here with a smile. We want to be your "coolest" customer experience.

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