Good customer service isn’t just important for libraries. It’s absolutely essential.
We have a lot of wonderful, intelligent, enthusiastic people out there spreading the word that librarians are still relevant. That our institutions are a vital part of the communities we serve. That we provide services that are more important in this uber-information age than ever before. That underfunding libraries and preventing their growth and development will create a void in many fundamental areas of the lives of the citizenry.That losing libraries or would be a devastating blow to our culture.
I have so much respect for our library advocates. They work tirelessly to bring those messages to our communities, legislators, educators and the media.
So please, please, please don’t make them liars.
It is a sad reality that every time a library fails to provide an inadequate customer service experience, that’s exactly what we do.
- Every time someone goes into a public library looking for help with their Kindle and are told they have to wait for the IT guy, we send the message that libraries are not really in the business of helping people with the things that matter to them, and that our professionals are ill equipped to move forward with new, relevant trends.
- Every time a parent is confronted with a complicated set of rules and procedures just to get their kid signed up for a library program, only to find that they can’t participate anyway because no programs for that age group are being held outside the professional staff’s normal 9-5 hours, we send the message that our time is more valuable than that of our community members.
- Every time someone calls up and gets some crazy phone tree when they only want to ask a simple questions, we send the message that answering their question is not really all that important to us.
- Every time access to resources is denied or restricted because the computers have all been locked down like Fort Knox due to some unspecified “security concerns”, we send the message that we don’t trust our community.
I could go on and on. You get it.
In a way, maybe this is really a love letter to our hardworking, amazing advocates. Or to the many awesome, dedicated library professionals out there who are cringing reading this right now. Or maybe this is just a touch of burnout talking and I should grateful that I’m about to go get inspired at ALA Midwinter.
Regardless, it is definitely a plea to libraries to take those individual every day customer service interactions very, very seriously. After all, in the end it is the front-line staff who define us in the minds of our community the most. We can work as hard as we want to portray our institutions as vital, relevant entities, but without everyone on the team being on board with ever single interaction, there’s no real proof to back that up.