I heard about TecCrunch from a co-worker.  I don’t consider myself a true ‘techie’ more like a dabbler, or someone willing to try to solve a problem before calling someone in knowing more than I do.  (Hopefully without making the problem worse for the person trying to solve it.)

TechCrunch has its own streaming TV with a program called ‘Keen On’ tackling business and technology issues.  This week’s episode has someone dubbed the ‘Guru of Customer Service’ named John Tschohl (pronounced tish-hole).  I didn’t know the guy was a guru, but working in retail taught me a lot about serving people and it’s translated into library work.  The segment talked about Netflix’s bungling on splitting its service (bad idea and luckily didn’t happen here in Canada) and continuing to bungle with their public relations.  I subscribe to Netflix and a real-live person helped me deal with a problem with my Microsoft Silverlight, after I tried to solve the problem on my own.  I do wince at the articles on the CEO and his inability to admit the Qwickster experiment failed and he’s alienated a whole host of people.  Have a look at the video below:

I haven’t heard about this guy, but his argument made me look him up.  He’s given workshops around the world, including Target and Zellers.  (Obviously before any merger took place.)  He said companies assume they are in the ‘banking business’ or the ‘airline business’, but do not look at themselves as providing a customer experience.  Libraries sometimes look at themselves as providing information literacy, research skills, and access while assuming people naturally provide good service to a user.  (From now on I write ‘user’ or ‘library user’ as opposed to the traditional term ‘patron’.  It’s really the same thing and I simply want to pick one term.)  I don’t think it’s good to assume service just happens naturally with the information at a reference desk. Sometimes even the best librarian, or library tech, have to ask themselves if the service they provide was enough to:

  1. Enable the user to come back again with another question, or if they need clarification.
  2. The service is enough to answer the question, or enable the user to flex the newly taught skill.

I ask myself that question a lot as a Library Tech dealing with people.  If I catalogued, I would still have to consider the user experience although contact is limited.  I still serve the user if I deal with people or not.  A large part of what I do, and it’s one of my strengths, is putting people at ease.  Why?  People feel uncomfortable and more than a few times label themselves as stupid for not knowing something.  (I heard that label said by students young and old.  It still breaks my heart.)  Other times I have to work hard to gain someone’s trust if their last experience in a library made them feel humiliated and stupid.  I put a person at ease because at one time I was that person.  I met some brilliant library folk not very adept at dealing with people.  As an information hound, I need the access and I will slay dragons to get at what I want.  Another person would simply give up and sometimes blame themselves.

People may think John  Tschoh’s pronouncement on Netflix sounds harsh, but they, and libraries, deal in customer experience.  Nobody can be a service superhero, just deal with the user as they are during their particular moment.  After getting stuck with this cold, I feel anxious to go back to work and really practice remaining present to my user and impart a good experience.

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