Seth Godin had a blog post a little while back about saying yes to customers that has stuck with me.
In my post about coffee in the library, my frustration really boils down to us saying, “No” and possibly alienating our customers when it’s completely reasonable to say “Yes” and meet their needs.
I think that government and nonprofit services can be guilty of this because our customers are not buying anything. There is no sales profit. It is easy to fall back on old procedures and rules when we should be rethinking and reevaluating rules and procedures regularly to see if we are at a place where we can turn a no into a yes.
I love that Seth refers to this as looking for an opportunity to say yes. We should always be on the look out for these opportunities. There are so many reasons to do this. For one, we need to keep innovating and changing to survive. It doesn’ t matter if you are a library or a DMV clerk, if your service becomes irrelevant you will not survive change. Another reason to look for opportunities to say yes, is that usually this will involve problem solving and not only is that fun; but, it could also provide you with an opportunity to network with colleagues which is always good.
The most important reason goes back to our missions. We are here to provide a service and we should be continually improving in order to provide the best service possible. If an obstacle to excellent service can be removed, even if it requires time, labor, consensus to do so, it should be removed.
Can I bring my coffee in here? Yes. Can I register for programs over the phone? Yes. Can I print from my laptop? Yes. Currently, of those three questions, at my library, you receive 2 No’s and a sometimes. Clearly, we’d be providing better service to our patrons if we could say yes every time when asked one of those questions.
Start looking for opportunities to say yes. It can only improve the relationship you have with your customers. It feels good too.