Lessons in customer service

May 7, 2008 at 3:13 pm 6 comments

Last week I had 2 really BAD customer service experiences. So awful that it made my staff and I send notes to 2 different organizations that have never been anything but pleasant and helpful. But I think that what I experienced is a good reminder for those of us that do customer service (and we all do!) on a regular or daily basis.

On Saturday, my Library held a Blood Drive through the American Red Cross. They were bringing the bus and asked us to have 45 donors sign up. At first we were having trouble getting donors. As an incentive, we decided to give away t-shirts to those that signed up and then arrived to donate on the day of the blood drive. We went through a local store to order the t-shirts, with the understanding that we could pick them up the day before the drive. Friday came and in the afternoon we got a phone call telling us that he was having trouble with one of the graphics. (UM . . . wait . . . aren’t the shirts supposed to be done already??) We scramble to make sure that we have something that he can do quickly (and the shirts did look good in the end) but when we arrived at the store, he was downright rude. As if this were all our problem, not his. We were shocked. I have never been treated so poorly in a store! He was even rude about the graphics and whether they were done by a professional graphic designer! I couldn’t believe it. I always try to do business in town, where possible. However, this really left a bad impression.

Conversely, one of my staff, after experiencing this, sent an email to Charlie at our local UPS Store, with whom the Library does lots of business! She just wanted to thank him for always going out of his way to accommodate us, even when we wait to the last minute.

My other negative experience was personal. I decided this year that I would take my tax refund and pay off my one remaining student loan from my undergrad degree that hasn’t been bought by Sallie Mae. I called a month ago, received the payoff amount and made the payment online through my bank. Last week I received a notice saying that I was delinquent! How was that possible?? I call and was told that maybe my bank made a mistake (in when the check was cashed), that the payment was late, and that I still owed them money! After being on hold for a considerable amount of time, he informs me that he will have to look into this and get back to me!

This experience prompted me to email my contact at the Credit Union that held my very first student loan to thank her again for always being courteous and friendly and helpful.

How often in the daily grind are we unaware of how our actions or tone of voice affect those we serve? Maybe we have had a bad day or are frustrated because we are really trying to help the customer or patron but are struggling to really be of assistance. I think the old saying that about a satisfied customer telling one person and a dissatisfied customer telling ten is probably true! Maybe we should all take the time to thank those that really do provide outstanding customer service! And remind ourselves how great it is to get that service when we are feeling like the customer service we are providing could use some improvement!


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  • 1. Cynthia  |  May 7, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    Thank you for pointing out that we can, and should, praise for good customer service. Early in my library career, a patron stopped back and thanked me. It meant so very much to me. Plus they did it in front of two co-workers, who then teased me all night (and it felt great).

    I don’t do it often enough (but treat me poorly and you can count on your boss getting a letter–I never forget bad service.). You have inspired me and I just sent a note an e-mail of thanks to an excellent on-line yarn store that always is a huge help to me….

  • 2. YA76OO  |  May 10, 2008 at 10:44 pm

    I’m (), VietNam

    I like this blog is so cool

    Anyway, It’s nice to see your blog

    God Bless you


  • 3. maura  |  May 12, 2008 at 10:30 am

    Customer service can be grueling. Customers can be thankless and rude, customer service representatives can be burnt out, annoyed, underpaid and rude.

    We don’t often talk about the good experiences we have as customers. Sending a note of thanks goes along way and is always well received.
    Thank you for reminding us.

  • 4. coolingstar9  |  May 13, 2008 at 11:43 am

    I am coolingstar9, good customer service is very important. I have just attended the course.
    I learnt a lot, to be frindly, helpful.
    Have a nice day.
    From: coolingstar9

  • 5. pollyalida  |  May 24, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    Such a good reminder to thank people for good service! Whenever I run into bad service, I try to thank the next person who gives me good service. And as a service provider, it certainly makes my day when someone says thank you. So thanks to all you Library Gardeners for your helpful blog postings. 🙂

  • 6. udandi  |  June 13, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    right on! last week I got some of the best news ever: that my assistantship did in fact cover an additional 3 credit hours that I had been previously told wouldn’t be covered so I paid for them myself. This was two years ago when I was wrapping up my MLS. Anyway, the lady in billing tracked me down through two moves to ask my address and return a check to me. She and her supervisor got a note of delight from me!

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