On my way home yesterday, I swung by the Brooklyn Public Library which has been doing much better in the customer service department since my initial encounter while getting a library card. I mostly just go there to pick up holds. I picked up my book and went to the checkout and greeted the clerk who returned my greeting. After swiping my card and checking out my material, she said, “Wait” and then looked at my pile. “You have two other books on hold. Let me check the back.” This is excellent customer service. I know that after checking me out she checked my record and saw the holds. Some clerks do not do this and then you get home to an email saying your books are ready. All in all the folks at BPL have been much friendlier and helpful and I now look forward to going in there. Lesson: Take the extra second (or longer) to provide thorough service.
I’m starting to think the mess over signing up for a card was just a fluke, though they still have my address wrong and I’m not about to correct it because it’s a hassle, which brings me to another lesson learned: keep it simple. The policy that I have to bring in proof of address AGAIN in order to correct the street number on my record, which I pointed out as an error is completely based on a system of distrust. It’s no skin off my back if the number is right or wrong. I don’t particularly want junk snail mail because I subscribe electronically to the information I want to receive. So, I’m not receiving any fund raising materials via snail mail, which would typically lie around my house before being tossed. I’ve been known to give fundraising pleas a second chance after they have been hanging around the house for awhile. Instead, because they won’t fix the address, they are only getting their pleas to my email inbox and I delete them immediately without reading. Out of sight, out of mind.
As a customer of any business, when I sense policies and procedures set up because they don’t trust me and/or their own employees I can almost feel my loyalty to them fade away. This happened with Whole Foods, where I do still shop from time to time but I really feel much less loyalty to them.
Brooklyn Public is a large system doing the best they can with a smaller budget (I’m guessing). But their most valuable resource is sitting at the circulation and reference desks. These are the folks that can build or break customer loyalty. These are the folks that deliver first impressions good and bad. How are you treating that resource? Are you getting the best from staff? Have you earned the best?
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Totally agree with you about the fact that the staff, particularly the front-line employees, is a crucial resource for any organization. And I’m glad you’re having a better experience at the library. As for your address, though, you can get it quickly fixed (with ID, yeah) the next time you borrow something…
@BPL Librarian: Welcome to CCS! I have worked for large urban public libraries and I know that it is difficult to keep front line staff happy. Low pay and boredom is a morale killer. Something right is happening at BPL because the circulation staff has mostly been very helpful and friendly. I did witness something at the Bedford branch that was disturbing but did not involve desk staff. We could talk off board about that if you wish. I’m ann at civil civil servant dot com.