Recent Events

Give Us A Reason To Come Back

Moe Hosseini-Ara and Elizabeth Tracy

Moe Hosseini-Ara and Elizabeth Tracy

Why do people come to libraries, and why do they return?  In this session, Moe Hosseini-Ara, Director, Branch Operations and Customer Experience, Toronto Public Library, and Elizabeth Tracy, Public Library Director, Whistler, BC, discussed customer service and used quotes to illustrate their points (Whistler is a major ski resort and was the site of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Elizabeth is the resort librarian and is convicted about providing excellent customer service.)

Moe said that his passion for customer service is giving people what they need. The customer is why we are here and if we take good care of them, they will give us a reason to come back to our library. But if we don’t take care of them, we will cease to exist. We need to treat them as if they sign our paychecks because they do! Every company’s greatest assets are its customers; without them there is no company.

Here are some touch points of customer service.

Touch Points of Good Customer Service

Touch Points of Good Customer Service

Some touch points, if they are not done well, can destroy the entire customer experience.

We must make changes to our service model; here are the values of change for libraries. If you are planning on changes any time soon, have conversations on these points with your staff. These are values to which we want our staff to aspire. Give them something to work towards.


Customers’ voices are more precious than management guidebooks. Policies can restrict your staff from being creative. Find what the customers want and look at your policies from that viewpoint. Are we making things easier for ourselves or for our customers? Make sure the staff understands the rationale behind your policies. Three statements that should be banned in libraries are: “We have always done it that way”, “We tried that before and it didn’t work”, and “If we stop doing that our customers will complain.” If your staff is resisting something, ask them why because you may discover a good reason to change it.

The question to ask your users is what they are trying to achieve, not what they want.  The customer is why you go to work; if they go away you do too. How you treat them is what matters. If you are not serving the customer,  you better be serving someone who is. There is nothing magical about excellent service; it is the culture–what people do when no one is looking. Look at what others are doing and learn from what they are doing.

Attributes of a user-centered organization:

  • Strong vision
  • Empowered staff (let them come up with ideas)
  • Clear purpose (why you are there)
  • Flexible, adaptable, and supportive culture
  • Deviant (divergent) thinking (giving the staff the ability to do what they have to do), and thinking outside the box
  • Deliberate things done consciously and intentionally in the use of resources

Customer service is an attitude, not a department. People need to be compassionate, reliable, informed, responsive, authentic, curious, and empathetic.  Change is constant.

Look at what you are doing and make a “stop doing” list.

Comments are closed.