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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

RANT: Customer DisService

ARGH! My frustration has boiled over and it’s time for another rant. What happened to good customer service? Especially in our libraries? I was reading the article about the  Itch and Stitch Children’s Knitting Club being kicked out of the Long Sault Library in Long Sault, Ontario since they aren’t allowing arts and craft groups. What? They’ll allow games and videogames, but NOT activities where people tend to quietly work and converse? Be sure to read the comments because I’m not the only one offended.

Perhaps because I have shared my love of yarn crafts – particularly crochet – with BOYS and girls for so many years, I cannot fathom discriminating against the group. Perhaps one of those children would have grown up to develop a knitted story similar to Faith Ringgold’s story quilts?! 

I’m planning to take in my latest 3 simultaneous crochet projects to show students while I teach some of them how to chain their own belts so they won’t violate dress code. I believe a crocheted chain would be much more creative than the phone cords, tie-down straps, and pieces of string I’ve seen used as an emergency measure. 

Why do we set policies without considering the customer’s reactions? Let me give you two other examples. I drove through a fast food chain Friday night to place an order. As I approached the window, I noticed several cars lined up in parking spaces idling. I paid for our order and the worker said, "Go park over there and I’ll bring it out." 

Seeing no one behind us at all, I simply put the car in park and chatted with #2 son while we waited. The worker returned, opened the window, and demanded to know what our problem was. I simply stated that there was no one behind me so we were content to wait there and save them steps. She grew quite upset and yelled that they had a timer counting us there and she wouldn’t get a good score if we didn’t move right away. 

I was so intimidated and surprised that I moved right away and told son, "Wow! I didn’t know we were getting her in trouble." Then I thought about this and I grew angry. All of those people were waiting awkwardly far longer for food than was indicated by the lines in the drive-through. She was tricking the system to make herself look better, but was actually irritating the customers. Is that customer service?

Another case: I ordered a cafe mocha at the local "celestial-object-compound-word-male-deer" store recently. When I asked for chocolate syrup to be drizzled on my mocha, the server rushed over to say I’d have to get back in line and pay an extra 30 cents for that line of chocolate. WHAT? Since when? Seems they have this rule on the books and the managers could use anyone’s granting that pretty swirl gratis as terms for dismissal. I was MAD (not angry, because there was actual whipped cream foam on my mouth). I’d received the swirl constantly for two years, now they wanted to charge me. Changing the rules without notice!

When I ventured to my favorite bread, internet, and coffee shop around the corner and told them this, they all froze in astonishment at the thought of such nonsense. The manager finished my beloved mocha with the swirl and said, "That’ll be 7 cents extra or a smile!" Much better service. All of us were laughing. Where do you think I’ll go in the future?

How about your library? Are you bringing people back or chasing them away? We didn’t have bar codes for students to check out books this past week. Did I let this stop me? NO way! I have over 900 students clamoring for books. I simply made sure that everyone of their teachers appreciated my creativity and customer service ethic by going the extra mile and locating every single one of them in the system so they could have books. No one went away unhappy. Everyone left with a book. Don’t we want to make them happy and to come back?

I also put a blue @your library shopping bag out with notepads and pens and instructed them to start telling me what they wanted in their new library. This was THEIR library so if they had suggestions, I wanted to hear them. That included ideas on decor, posters, bright lights, temperature, and activities as well as books/magazines/media to purchase. Teachers are getting involved. Students are frantically writing down titles, authors, and details and the students are talking about books.

This is the kind of interaction we need to be fostering. Not the "get in and get out quick" line, or the "I’ll have to charge you extra because you inconvenience me" store, or even the "in my evaluation your activities aren’t worthy" administrators! Tell me what you want. Talk to others. Come to consensus. Be involved. 

Welcome! and in the spirit of the Chinese Olympics Huan Ying Guang Lin. Perhaps we should be wearing welcoming signs and greeting patrons at the door.