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February 12, 2007

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Marcus

What amazing service! And yes, this is a good model for librarians.

But at the risk of sounding churlish, I must point that Tony's ability to provide top-notch service was more straightforward than for librarians. His restaurant wasn't open, so he gave you a gift certificate and directed you to another excellent choice. End of story, but traveling five blocks to see you and Lynn ensured that you'll come back and tell your friends to visit too. Who knows? Without that extra touch, you may been less inclined to write about the experience.

In libraries, we "link people to knowledge" or provide "access to quality-filtered information." It's nebulous, no matter how well we do what we do. That makes good service much harder to define. Tony is a great model to follow, but it will take a long while until our path is as clear-cut as his.

T Scott

Actually, I was mentally composing a post about the experience even before Tony showed up at Gibson's -- that bit just made it even more over the top. And I actually think it is very clearcut -- the point was that Tony made me feel that the most important thing in the world to him right then was that Lynn and I had a good lunch. The people that we provide services to should feel that we think the same about their information needs -- and we should be willing to go to the same lengths if we have to in order to back that up. The experience wasn't about the gift certificate or the five block walk per se -- it was about the way he made us feel. If we care as much about our customers as he does about his, and we take every opportunity to show it, then we're on to something.

Tara Murray

This reminds me of a story an instructor told my class as I was beginning library school. I may be taking liberties with the details, but the gist of the story follows.

The librarian was working at the reference desk of a large undergraduate library in an urban setting. It was at the beginning of the academic year, and a returning (older) student came in looking distraught. Her car was double-parked and she couldn't find a legal parking spot, or figure out where she needed to go to complete financial aid paperwork. Deadlines were looming, and she was on the verge of giving up on going back to school.

The librarian could sense the building frustration. Rather than simply point the student to an information source (say, a campus directory, which could be just as bewildering as the street signs), she picked up the phone, called the appropriate university office, and put the student in touch with a person who could help her.

In the library world, this might well be considered "going over the top". But think of how this student will remember the library as she pursues her studies--welcoming, friendly, and helpful.

I think of this story often when I help patrons in my library. (I don't call them customers, but I expect your maitre d' might not have called you customers either--perhaps guests, or diners, or even restaurant patrons?)

Eilan

Oh how nice. I live in Germany and we have a so called "Servicewüste" meaning service dessert here. One could only expect to be yelled at if we showed up and dared to inquire about a recommendation or something.

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