A customer phones the library.
A customer tweets the library.
A customer posts on the library’s Facebook page.
A customer emails the library.
A customer texts the library.
When a customer wants to engage with you, please make it easy-peasy for them to do so, through whatever channel they choose.
How nimble, agile and light-footed is your library? Do you have the data to demonstrate how responsive your library is to its customers? If I asked you how many customer interactions are responded to, and resolved, within 24 hours of first contact, could you tell me?
What if … you measured where your customers actually are, and allocated staffing accordingly?
What if … your staff are proactively located in the same space as your customers, from Twitter to Yammer, from Facebook to online chat, to outside the four walls of your library?
What if … you publicly state that you will respond to customers via the same channel they engaged with you, be it Twitter, email, text, telephone, letter or Facebook, be it publicly or privately.
If you aren’t in a position to proactively support a wide range of communication channels, then please ensure that the ones you do have are in tip-top shape, easy-to-use and accessible for all.
Make your online feedback forms meaningful, with space that is big enough to type in, and offering the option to email a copy of the form to the customer. You may (or may not) be surprised to know that these two things are not always a given on feedback forms.
What if … you had a sizeable “I’ve got something to say” button that appeared on every page of your website? Instead of making customers hunt through your website for the feedback form, it’s right there on every page, easily accessible, inviting conversations.
Does your library have agreed terms of engagement with your customers? Does your library encourage staff and enable them to engage quickly, freely sharing the information customers seek, and clearly communicating the reason for any delay? Does your library have agreed time frames for responding to customers?
What if … you publicly state that you will respond to all messages, be it via phone call, emails and walk-ins, within an hour when your library is open, and within the first hour of the library re-opening on the next business day?
How responsive you can be to customers is highly dependent on the communications systems that are already in place, and the level of self-sufficiency that customers feel when they engage with your library. If you make it easy for them to use your library, and there are plenty of ways for them to independently find the information they need in the first place, then you may not feel the pressure to improve your communication channels immediately.
What if … you were proactive and not reactive?
Being able to tread lightly, respond quickly & meaningfully, invites your customers to widely share with the world their positive interactions with you.
Being heavy-footed, blaming a poor communications system, using old school tools and forcing the customer to engage in the ways that you (not them) are comfortable with, may just ensure that they exercise their democratic right to tell everyone just how poor your customer service is.