Understand Library Computer Users: A Compass for Quality Service
Last week I attended the American Library Association Annual Conference in Anaheim, just a few blocks away from Disneyland. I brought back a lot of great ideas about Public Computer Centers and Digital Literacy. I also attended a session on customer service: Disney’s Approach to Quality Service. This session gave me a few ideas of how we might approach computer users differently, to provide the best customer service possible.
Just like you might use a compass to guide your way in the wilderness, you can use a compass to guide your understanding customers. In the Disney Quality Service compass, the usual N-E-S-W markers have been replaced by Needs, Emotions, Stereotypes, and Wants.
These four compass markers are the things we need to consider about our computer users when we are serving them. What do they need from us? What do they want, above and beyond the status quo? What are the stereotypes our customers have of us? And what emotions do they bring with them?
The response to these questions may vary from one community to another, but there are some common threads. The people visiting our centers need access to computers and the Internet, and they may also need training in order to use it. They may want to have individual help with specific questions, or they may want to be left alone. They may have a stereotype that the public computers are for people who already know how to use them, or they may think they are not allowed to answer questions. They may bring emotions of fear, anxiety, stress, or excitement when they come to use our computers. What can we do to better understand our computer users?
In the session, the presenter told a story about a common question they receive at Disneyland. People often ask “What time is the 3 o’clock parade?” This question seems like such an obvious question, but when you use the compass as a guide you see there are many other factors. The person asking this question does not mean to ask what time the parade begins. What they want to know is where they should watch from, what time they should get there, and where they can get a snack to enjoy during the parade. When someone asks an obvious question, remember to take into account their needs, wants, stereotypes, and emotions before giving them an obvious answer.
What obvious questions do we get about computers? How can we answer those obvious questions to focus more on the person’s needs, wants, stereotypes, and emotions? How can we exceed their expectations, making them happy customers that continue to come back and use our computers? Let these questions fuel discussion in your library, so your team can find better ways to serve your users.