Posted by: paultovell | January 2, 2010

Meeting Mr Have-It-Now

The usual New Year paradox.  I would like to try and be more customer-focussed this year, but if I make a resolution about it, I’ll just be miserable if I break it!  So I’ll not make a resolution but try hard anyway.  The reason for all this angst is that I have started doing the Frontline training course recently – aimed at making library workers more reader-focussed.  I think it’s working already – as part of the first module I spent a morning asking customers about how they were choosing their books in the library.  

I’ll admit I was a little bit trepidatious about doing this, as I hate to pester people and don’t find it easy approaching strangers and starting a conversation.  But the mistake was in my assumption that this counted as pestering.  I had forgotten how much library customers love to talk about books.  I had several really nice conversations and it seemed less like working, more like chatting.  One lady had only just found the area of the library where we separate out thriller/crime fiction, and was in some sort of Grisham heaven.  Another gentleman was browsing everything in a very haphazard way whilst his wife was having her hair done, and started to interview me.  It was good to hear from one lady that she regularly took whatever caught her eye from one of our displays – job done!  Only one customer seemed to think there was a right answer and was trying desperately to find it from my responses and expressions – that must have been amusing to watch.  And one gentleman – Mr Have-It-Now – was frustrated that there weren’t more titles by an author on the shelves, but rejected all of my suggestions about requesting or reserving and went on to find something else.  What a mystery customers are.  He still left happy, I think, and he certainly didn’t resent me talking to him – he was delighted to be listened to! 

I may try it again some time, just to stay in touch with our readers – it strikes me that I’m missing a whole lot while I’m sat at my desk in the back office.

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