How About Training in Customer Service?

In re-reading and pondering Meredith Farkas’s Skills for the 21st Century Librarian, it dawned on me that in addition to her well-thought out (and well written) competencies, there really should be some sort of expected competency in customer service. I believe that there is some small level of this in my current program. I have been pleasantly surprised at that in most classes the patron is experience is stressed heavily (as it should be). However, this could be more explicitly stated and studied more in depthly. I think a class that teaches about customer service and/or people skills would be a wonderful addition to any MLS program. Everyone has difficult experiences with patrons, co-workers, etc. and many of us could use help dealing with such problems. Ultimately, it is important for librarians to be able to deal effectively and professionally with patrons, to listen to them, to help them find the information they seek and to ultimately remember that without them we would not have a job.

In the same vein, Steve over at Blog About Libraries has written another great post about customer service (since this is a thinly veiled attempt to promote his original list, I thought I would help. Don’t forget his first followup post either). Steve talks a bit more about one of his original 20 Points on Excellent Customer Service: #3 Treat each other well and you will find that treating patrons nicely becomes easier. I think this harkens back to the old adage that smile and the world smiles back at you. I like the point that if we create a friendlier and more supportive work atmosphere, we will be creating a friendlier and more supportive atmosphere for our communities. These points seems so simple and yet, so often we find ourselves at the mercy of life’s demands and forget how important they really are.

2 Responses to How About Training in Customer Service?

  1. Steve says:

    Excellent point about communities. Exceptional customer service is critical for libraries if they want to position themselves in the mix of local community development…and it’s something I plan to write about sometime in the future.

  2. […] Jennifer of Life as I know It asked “How about training in customer service?” I guess I take it for granted that people working in libraries have a customer service orientation, but I really should know better. Many of us do come from other helping professions (social work, education, etc.) and many people enter this field because they want to help people. But I have known people in this field with the “it’s not my job” attitude about anything that lay a bit outside of their regular job duties, even when it would help a patron. And I have known librarians who see the library as something to protect from patrons and create policies towards that end. In many classes, library schools could and should emphasize the fact that libraries and librarians only exist to serve our patrons. […]

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