On a + note

It’s all about the front of the house! #38: 2010

Posted in on a + note by kendal0 on November 1, 2010

I have been reading Delivering Happiness: a Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos (you know, the amazing online shoe store at www.zappos.com). It’s an interesting read about success, empowering staff, and leadership. He talks about corporate culture and how empowering staff and modeling happiness can dramatically improve your business and your life. It got me to thinking about how front line staff interact with our customers and how, if that connection fails, we all fail.

So how can we improve the customer experience on the front lines?

  • Good customer service is like parenting; you need training! Don’t expect staff to instantly know how to treat customers. They need to be taught and re-taught. They need to know the customers, and they need to know our products!
  • Hire for attitude! In most cases, we can train staff. However, if they don’t like working with people and have the patience, flexibility, and confidence to treat each interaction as the most important one, we can’t teach that. Especially for front line staff, hire for attitude. I look for folks with retail experience, who have played on a team sport, and who have the energy and attitude to deal with the public.
  • Friendly staff build customer loyalty, and customer loyalty keeps us in business. It’s that simple. How can you, as a supervisor, support a friendly staff? Awards, recognition, training, and modeling good service will help keep the front line staff engaged with the customer, and keep us all in business!
  • Do you really know how staff is treating customers when you aren’t looking? If not, you need to. Sending in a secret shopper or even your mom (if she’s not a regular visitor) will give you some insight into how staff treat friendly and not-so-friendly customers. As a library manager, you need to understand the customer experience firsthand, a hunch or a feeling won’t get you the real answers you need to assure excellent customer service.
  • All library staff should help the front line staff “shine” and sell the library. This is a team effort, and building connections between the front and back of the house is essential. The front end staff can’t do it alone! Even though the back end staff might hate this, we are all in public service.

It’s all about the front line staff! Have a great week!

Kitty Pope
kpope @ alliancelibrarysystem.com #38 November 2010

One Response to 'It’s all about the front of the house! #38: 2010'

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  1. Ann Larson said,

    Dear Kitty,
    I just read about your resignation and plans to return to Canada. Yes, I know, I’m retired but just love checking the web site at least once a week. Best wishes to you in all you do. You have been a wonderful leader for us all, and I’ve enjoyed knowing you in Library Land!

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