Mastering Tough Public
Service Situations
An
Workshop
Spring 2009
Instructor: Cheryl Gould
[email protected]
Costs and Benefits

Of offering good customer service
– for you?
– for customer?

Of offering poor customer service
– for you?
– for customers?
Topics for Today

Library and customer service

Policies and exceptions

Problem handling skills

Communication principles

Staying safe
– psychologically and physically
Continuum of Encounters

Non-emotional
– routine, simple transactions

Emotional customer
– come in with attitude
– something in the library causes problem

Unacceptable library behavior

Dangerous or crazy people
What’s the Library’s Mission?
 Be
a “public forum”
– all points of view
– community meeting place
– information for everyone
 answer
questions
 loan books
 open access to information
 provide instruction
Institutional Support

Training for difficult situations

Guidelines for the bigger problems
– when and who to call for help
– incident reports
– how to stay safe

System for keeping staff informed
– regular staff meetings
– keep a notebook at the desk
– area for “library news” on library Intranet
Written Policies

Enforce consistently

Should be revised periodically to
reflect changes in the library

Know where you have flexibility
When Making Exceptions

Be clear and consistent

Say “this is a one-time exception”

Document the exception
– in a notebook
– on their patron record
"If you keep doing what you’re
doing, you’ll keep getting what
you’re getting.”
“If you keep believing what
you’re believing,
you’ll keep achieving what
you’re achieving.“
Adapted from a saying by Albert Einstein
For Repeating Difficult
Situations You Can Change
1. Customer Expectations
2. The Library Environment
Consider Changes to Your
Library Environment

Different hours

Physical Layout

Staff training

Improved technology
– computers, printers, copiers

Better signs - not more!

Revision of policies

Guidelines for common exceptions
Satisfied Doesn’t Mean You Get
Exactly What You Came For
Human

need for interaction
Information need
– fast, accurate, useful
– no library jargon

Human need for interaction
– friendly
– feel heard
– feel special
Library Service Skills

Question handling
– reference interview
– finding answers

Person handling
– good communication
– handle emotions
 yours
 theirs

Professional manner
It’s Important Not To...

Set bad examples by
– allowing disruptive behavior
– unpleasant staff interactions
– blaming the library

Use language that provokes:
– Our policy is…
– I’m sorry, but…
– I can’t…
Seven Sins of Service
Apathy
 The Brush-off
 Coldness
 Condescension
 Robotism
 The Rulebook
 The Run-around

© 1994 Dr. Karl Albrecht, c/o Albrecht Intl, used by permission.
Communication Isn’t All Talk

Verbal - words
– from 7% to 25% of the message

Non-Verbal
– tone of voice
– rate of talking
– how you present yourself
 gestures
and posture
 facial expressions
 appearance
“Customers who feel they are treated well,
even if they do not leave with what they
want, will be more satisfied with the
customer service, they receive than the
customers who find the information they
want, but feel the library staff member is
rude or indifferent.”
Pat Wagner’s “Library Customer Service Training Manual.
Sept, 99 p.8
Continuum of Encounters

Non-emotional
– routine, simple transactions

Emotional customer
– come in with attitude
– something in the library causes problem

Unacceptable library behavior

Dangerous or crazy people
Dealing With Unacceptable
Behavior

Rapport
– make a connection

Information
– must be explicit
– no library jargon

Consequences/Action
– offer alternatives
– set limits
– remove privileges
Psycho - Logical
When people are being emotional
(you or the customer) they are using
the non-rational half of their brain so
until you calm them down, a rational
solution may not work.
Continuum of Encounters

Non-emotional
– routine, simple transactions

Emotional customer
– come in with attitude
– something in the library causes problem

Unacceptable library behavior

Dangerous or crazy people
When Should You Call
for Help?
Weapons
 Threatening
 Molestation
 Exposure/Flashing
 Vandalism
 Abusive Language?

How to Respond to
Dangerous Situations

Let security handle it
Let them leave the building
 Need to practice behavior
– how do you call the police?

“Call
Dr. Blue”
dial 911 or 9, 911
It’s Not About Winning
“To win one hundred victories
in one hundred battles is not
the highest skill. To subdue
the customer without fighting
is the highest skill”
Sun-tzu, The Art of War
The Two Sides of the Problem

You:
– I have an angry customer and we’ve just
met!
– I’m busy and I don’t have time for this
– Why don’t they just do it right.

The Customer:
– I have a service provider who doesn’t
want to give me what I want.
 normally
I am a nice person
 I’m stressed because I can’t solve my
problem.
LeapS Model

Listen actively
– empathize
I
see that you’re upset…
 NOT I know how you feel
– ask questions
 open
ended not closed
– paraphrase
 to

buy time, clarify
Seek Solutions
Adapted from “Verbal Judo: the Gentle Art of Persuasion”
by Dr. George Thompson - verbal-judo.com
Good Communication
1. Is not about power, control, winning or
being right
2. Instructs, but does not punish by
"teaching the other person a lesson."
3. Is based on honesty and sincerity. (not
venting of raw feelings without regard
for the other person.)
4. Does not always result in agreement or
compliance. Certain issues may be
resolved by agreeing to disagree.
Paraphrased from the Center for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Inc.,
http://gwbweb.wustl.edu/Users/dfs1/commskills.html
You Want to Avoid
Confrontation

Confrontation often encourages:
– anger
– defensiveness

Fight or flight response
– natural response to a difficult situation
– whether physical or emotional
– increased heart rate and blood flow
Handling Your Own Emotions

80% of internal dialog is negative
– negative “self-talk” becomes a selffulfilling prophecy

Try positive self-talk!
– “That was a tough situation but I
handled it the best I know how”

Take time out for yourself
– a particularly difficult situation
– personal issues
“If someone slings
an insult arrow at
you move your
head”
Standings
Mis
Cause Miscommunication
Bias, prejudice
 Cultural differences

– variations in physical distance
– eye contact

Disabilities
The less you have in common, the more
important it is to use clear and simple
language. Use images when possible!
When You Have to Say “No”

Some situations require saying “No”
– not available
– not possible
– outside of the scope of the library

You can still:
– do LEAPS
– THEN get to saying “What I can do is…”
Buying Time

To calm down when overwhelmed
– you
– them

Patron pushes your buttons
– appearance - dirty, smelly, cult
– behavior – bigoted, angry, passive

To give you time to prepare a strategy
Good Customer Service Interaction
Human
Information
Human
Wrap - Up

You do fine with most interactions

If a person comes at you with emotion
use LeapS

Difficult situations tax you out of
proportion to regular customers
– recognize your responses
– take yourself out of the situation if you can’t
handle it

“You can’t please all of the people all of
the time”
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customer - Infopeople