Sunday, 17 November 2013

Professionalism and Engagement in Customer Service Event - M25 Consortium of Academic Libraries

Professionalism and Engagement in Customer Service: M25 Customer Service Group Conference

I attended this event at Kings College, London University on 7th November 2013.
Before this event was advertised on various Jiscmail lists, I hadn't heard of the consortium or group so it was interesting to know of it's existence and their website with more information.
I was keen to go to the event because of the venue as I did my first degree at Kings College in the 80s so it was an opportunity for a nostalgic visit.

After the introduction / welcome session, the first session was a keynote from Andrew McMillan, Principal Consultant at Engaging Solutions.  He talked about staff engagement and the relevance of customer experience in libraries.  He said that if you search for results about innovation then the results are about the physical space and digitisation but we should be concentrating on 'what it feels like' and the library space as a good space to work and a social space.  Libraries can curate information and direct students to the information that is relevant.
The team is what is at the heart of customer service.

e gave quite a few examples from commercial companies with images and video clips.  He gave the example of McDonald's, not as something to be recommended, but to illustrate the idea of a transactional relationship with customers.  If we go down the digitisation route only and just supply resources then there is a danger that it becomes a transactional relationship.  
His next example was of Harley Davidson (motorbikes) - they were in a market where they couldn't compete so in order to do so and survive, they focused on the feel of the brand and product.  How people feel about the brand is important.  
The customer experience is not just a product or service.  
It is the channel - how easy are you to access?
The process - how easy are you to business with?

Concentrate on what it feels like - engagement.
This often involves a cultural and behavioural change for staff, it's about attitude and behaviour and training is not always the answer.
Take 'fluffy' customer engagement and make tangible - define, measure, communicate, reward, lead.  Take care when recruiting and inducting new staff.  Take pride in the brand you are representing.  He did make some very good points as well as some that are more difficult to transfer into the environment of an academic library and the associated ethos and staffing e.g. Hire for for attitude
I do agree that libraries should focus more on being 'the place to be' and engaging and promoting themselves as 'wow' places.  For me it is the space and the feel and the place that are as important, if not more important, than the resources. This is something for me to think about as you would think that people who are technology focused like myself would be less keen on the physical space, but this is not the case.
He also mentioned about management and leadership which gave me some points to think about before I try to articulate them.
These are the notes:

What you do (management)
The way you do it (leadership)
You should spend 20% of time talking to your team and
being with team interacting with students. Leadership is a performance. You have
to be conscious of your behaviour because everybody else is.
Need to have strength of conviction (dance on your name!!)
Manage things, lead people
Set standards by example, coaching and encouragement
?s for all of us
What is your purpose?
Why do you work here?
Why did you choose your career?
What do you most enjoy?

The next presentation was by the Kings College Libraries Customer Services Team (Lucy Royle, Vanessa Farrier and Ruth Murphy), who talked about putting staff engagement ideas into practice.  They have 5 campuses, 6 libraries.  They have an Enquiry and Site Services team - two desks. They reviewed all their procedures and policies with the customer at the centre.  They concentrated on a quality, customer service that was responsive, inclusive, friendly, knowledgeable and proud.  They aimed to embed professionalism and create an ethos. This involved a change in behaviours. 

They created a collaborative staff charter and all staff sign it as a declaration of their support. I like this idea - if you can get staff onboard with it as it gives ownership of the service and the developments to the team.  
They also highlighted the need to consider the new ethos when recruiting and inducting new staff.  
(I also have 'role play...' in my notes  - hmm, this one would be tricky with my team...)

The next presentation was by Heidi Daniell of Accelerator Solutions and was about emotional intelligence and engagement.  There was an activity that you had to do in pairs changing 3 things etc.  and the 'emotions' involved which was then linked to change management - change is uncomfortable.  You need to know why - human behaviour involves thoughts, feelings and behaviour. 
Acceptors cynics rejecters 10:80:10.  V+D+S >R Vision Dissatisfaction Steps > Resistance
Disengaged employees don't know what is expected of them - don't know what
good looks like.  Do you know what motivates your people?
Engaged employees have pride, they believe in the product/services.
The presentation was useful although it felt a little bit like a sales pitch...

Sue Downie then did a short presentation about the Institute of Customer Service and it's accreditation and training which was informative.

After lunch the focus was customer engagement.  There were a series of quick presentations on innovative feedback methods and related topics.  I thought this was a very useful part of the day.  

Hannah Thomas, British Museum Library - Anthropology library & research centre.  Their library is one of nine libraries at the British Museum.  They have an unusual situation in that they are a department and a public library.  
Ideas and problems - no captive audience, remote users.  There are no renewal dates for their books (does this mean readers could  them out for ever?).  They are not allowed to tweet - unless they book the tweet 6 months in advance! They want more people
to use ALRC.  It was an interesting talk highlighting the differences between different academic libraries.  It will be interesting to see how some of their ideas develop.  

Ian Clark, Christchurch University, Kent
He talked about the need to have two way communication, less preaching more
engaging. 87% of 18-24 yr olds use twitter, 36% use social media to contact a
large organisation so this needs to be taken into account when using social media.  Use a response on twitter to diffuse problems. Learn about students needs and build relationships.  Monitor hash tags Location services Be proactive. 

Anna Knox, University of East London talked about their new library - the process of planning and consulting with students.  

What do you want in the new library?  What don't you want in the new library?
The results from the consultation were:
Wanted : More books and journals, Silent study rooms, More PCs, More group study rooms, 24 hr coffee
Didn't want : Noise, Food eating drinking, Broken equipment, Litter, Clutter/cramped spaces
They held focus groups and the responses showed (predictably?) that students wanted different things at different times.  The architects presented draft plans to students and staff.  They involved students in all stages of the process e.g. choosing furniture and fittings

Rob Wannerton, Brunel University

Talked about 'Changing the Story'.  Traditional methods tend to be slow and take time. 
Dialogue :take part in a conversation or discussion to resolve a problem
Since 2009 they have been using Facebook Twitter and Bookmark mentions of their library and services daily.  Include students in their library and developments e.g. Choose carpets choose bag slogans suggest names for
spaces.  Use Instagram, Storify, Pinterest, #BrunelLibrary

Jo Taplin Green, LSE Library 
She talked about how they 'Go Out and About' and this was really interesting - 'roving' outside the library. I've heard talks about this before (from Huddersfield??) and it is a great idea and useful to provide help at the point of need.  They pre-advertise the sessions to ask students at various
locations on campus.  You need to have a proactive approach to promotion of services and gathering feedback.  Choose your audience - relaxed environments - groups rather than individuals. 

The last talk in this session was by Lauren Elmore,  University of Leicester.
She talked about student feedback cards 'Happy Cards'.
Cards for students to fill in which have three questions:
Are you happy with the service today?
Staff polite and professional?
Was the information or help you received useful?

They use the feedback to improve the service.  I like this idea and have used something similar before for LRC feedback - why do you like the LRC?  It sounds as if it is too vague or fluffy but students in my experience like filling in free text (paperbased) as a change from the constant electronic surveys they get sent. 

There were refreshments and a further session but I had to leave early to make sure that i could catch my train.
And also to visit the Maughan Library

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I am using waffor’s Customer Engagement Suite. Its really a good way to build more customer satisfaction.