Friday, March 14, 2008

French Concierge Customer Service

In the United States, you only see your landlord once a month, typically with an outstretched hand asking, "Where is my money?" You call the landlord to have something repaired, it takes forever, it doesn't get done correctly, and the landlord gives the appearance that he/she doesn't care.

This is the same disconnect many people feel about a library or any organization. The average patron wants to feel engaged about what is going on in their library. They want to feel like they are getting extra attention. It is much like the show Cheers, they want to feel like everybody knows their name. We provide that service. We find them books and materials that they like and then we buy more of it. We attempt to make our services quick and available to our public and we do it in a way that shows them pleases us, to please you.

To deter patrons who cause problems, it must be known that there is some consequence for their actions. We must demonstrate that bad behavior is not tolerated. We do this for the patrons who expect order . In both cases, there must be a feeling that they are being attended to.

We must assess what is going on in the library and identify people who need help and assist them as we can. In France, the role of the concierge is to meet the needs of their tenants, and bounce bad people off the premises. The highest dedication is to their charges. The same viewpoint must be taken in service industry (the library is always considered a service industry). You are in charge of the experience and care for those who visit you. You are in charge of their personal care and to make sure they have the best experience they can. This doesn't mean you let them break rules, but it does mean to treat people with kindness and respect. Treatment as you would like to be treated.

We must ensure that we are available for patrons to provide quick access and services. A greeting desk and greeter sets the tone. If you are the first person they see, it is your moment of truth that will determine if that patron has a good experience or a bad one. Roving reference plays a large role in what we do in providing good customer service. The purpose is to walk around, see how people are doing. Do they need help? Are there problems or problem people we need to take care of? Do we know who we are taking care of and introduce ourselves when they need assistance? It is the small personal touches that ensure good experience. Instead of saying, NO CELL PHONES IN HERE, you can simply state that the patron can please take their call into the lobby and thank you. It is difficult to continue to provide good service when patrons may be rude, and there may be many of them, but it is our job as a service to provide the best service we can.

We are here to take care of them and they have demanded our service by walking into our building, calling us on the phone, or sending us an email. Every experience is a reflection on the library and every experience must demonstrate that we care about our patrons. We do this and can continue to do this. It is important to remember this as we move forward as a service. Who do we serve and why? We must ask our purpose every day before we begin the day.

I will share this one from a library director's experience at a restaurant. February 12, 2007Making The Best Of A Bad Day


Anonymous said...

Nicely said. Customer service is so important.

Anonymous said...

I would agree that customer service is important. Of course it is. But customer service to 85% of patrons means that they come in to a library that doesn't reek of eau-de-drunk-old-sleeping-guy, find someone right away who can help them get what they came in for, check out or print out those materials, and go home. Polite and attentive library staff, clear signage, and user friendly policies, yes. Greeters and someone who "knows their name"? Hardly.

Jeff Scott said...

Very true, the library environment must be nice as well. Polite staff cannot make up for a bad environment. Library staff must be authorized to bounce the bad people. Public intoxication cannot be tolerated. That is all part of the service, take care of the good people, make sure violators are taken care of, and empower staff to make those decisions.