Sunday, April 29, 2007

Any Luck with GoodSearch?

Have any libraries or library organizations been successful in raising funds via GoodSearch?

GoodSearch, which is powered by Yahoo!, is a search engine which donates approximately $0.01 per search to the charity of the searcher’s choice. Get more info here. Charities and non-profits will receive an annual check from GoodSearch providing they earn more than $20/year.

There are quite a few libraries on the list of participants, but so far I’ve only seen a few that have generated the minimum $20/year. The Friends of the New Orleans Public Library has raised $34.44 so far this year. I wonder if most organizations signed up, but aren’t promoting it much. Other total donations raised so far in 2007: ALA - $1.55; Ohioana Library Association - $21.61; and Rawson Memorial Library - $15.10.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Good Stuff: Customer Service Tips

My customer service kick continues. Here are some links to other good stuff worth sharing:

1. We Don’t Like You Go Away - Seth Godin’s Blog:
“Hey, I know that your last customer was a jerk. I know that you get asked the same stupid questions over and over. I know that people don't appreciate you, they're boors, they're selfish, they're in a hurry.

But, here's the thing: I'm not those people. I've never been here before. I didn't do anything wrong! Don't blame me for them.”

2. Business Week’s “Rules for Making a Good First Impression (via Library Voice):
Rule #1: Respond within 24 Hours
Rule #2: Greet People with Enthusiasm
Rule #3: Make Eye Contact

Rule #4: Leave Smart Voice Messages

Rule #5: Respect Contacts

Rule #6: Mind Your E-Mail

Rule #7: Remember Small Touches

3. Guy Kawaski's The Art of Customer Service
& Doug Hanna's The Art of Customer Service II

I just loooove Seth's post. Get your fix of more customer service articles here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Turning to the Hospitality Industry for Customer Service Tips

After reading my Determinants of Delight post, Patrick Graham, director of the Pitts Theology Library at Emory University, wrote to share his positive experience of turning to the hospitality industry for customer service advice. Graham invited Stuart Newmark, Sr. VP of Operations for the Kessler Collection (a group of about 10 boutique hotels), to come talk to his librarians and staff about what they refer to as “customer care.”

Mr. Newmark, did a four hour workshop for all of our staff--catalogers to IT to reference staff. It was a big hit and we continue to work through what we learned that day and look for appropriate application/translation from the hospitality industry to that of academic libraries. He left us a copy of a book that had been critical for the culture that they aim for in their hotels, Positively Outrageous Service, and I've found it both inspirational and helpful.

I asked Pat if he would share the memorable points from that talk and he graciously did.
  • It's important to make an emotional connection with customers
  • Need to be passionate about customer service
  • Service culture is not just a technique, and it comes much easier for some than others.
  • Important comments regarding hiring of the right staff; he talked about the importance of hiring people who really care about others and see service as an honor or privilege; if you make a mistake in hiring and cannot cultivate the employee into the type of person needed, you need to do both of yourselves a favor and send the person on his/her way.
  • The customer is NOT always right, but is always the customer. Allow the customer to be wrong with dignity.
  • Continuously evaluate & seek feedback; aim for a zero defect policy.
  • Celebrate the successes of your staff--via public recognition, small gifts, etc.
  • Aim to create WOW moments.
  • Always try to answer Yes--unless the request is immoral, unethical or unsafe.
  • Empower your staff to make decisions to respond to unusual circumstances (and train them so that they can do this well).
  • Discussion of core values

Graham shared more tips about the talk:
We had our staff develop of list of almost 20 questions that we'd like him to address--many relate to challenges we face in our library work--and enjoyed having him work through them with us.

We created a Client Care task force and blog back in the fall and have now instituted a Positively Outrageous Service button so that our staff can commend one another for examples of positively outrageous service. I think we'll share the contributions at our monthly staff meetings and draw one for a complimentary $5 Starbucks gift card. We'll see how that works.

The Pitts Library also created the Client Care at Pitts blog to support their discussions. Check it out for more resource links.

Thanks, Pat, for sharing this great idea. I often think libraries can learn from other industries, it's great to have this positive example to share. On a personal note, I really appreciate every comment and e-mail I receive here, they inspire me to keep blogging (see this is two posts in one month! A record as of late). So if you feel the slightest twinge of desire to leave feedback, please do so.

Monday, April 09, 2007

E-Mail Pitch Tips: What Not to Do

*updated 4/10/07

Sooner or later everyone has to ask for a favor or pitch a complete stranger via e-mail. I’m sure no one does this with the intention of doing it badly, but lately I’ve been on the receiving end of some less than stellar examples of e-mail pitches. So I'm taking this opportunity to jot down some tips to keep in mind when writing a pitch e-mail, or any e-mail really.

First, a quick note on the jargon. I’m using the word pitch to cover a lot of possibilities: the sales pitch, the media pitch (where you try to interest a reporter or editor in a story), even the idea pitch. Then there is the favor pitch, for lack of a better term, where you ask someone to do you a favor, pass along some information, provide information to you, etc. There are oodles of tips for media pitches online and they’re worth reading, but many of those tips should apply to ANY e-mail you send.

Here are some things to keep in mind:
  1. Just say no to attachments! Some people may not mind them, but it's best to play it safe. Don’t send an attachment to someone who doesn’t know you. Attachments take time to download, take time to open in another program, and are used to transmit viruses. Today I received a sales pitch e-mail, but all it had was an attached PDF file and contact information. Now I’m nosy, so I did open it. The PDF was just a list of the company's services. These could have easily been incorporated into the body of the e-mail.

  2. State the desired action. A good pitch should include a specific call to action. Are you sending information that you hope this person forward to an e-mail list, publish in their newsletter, or just as an FYI? Include a polite, but specific request. I receive press releases in both my work and personal e-mail accounts that do not include context or introductory information and I'm not sure why I'm receiving them in the first place. These get deleted because I don't have time to figure it out. But if someone sends me relevant information and asks me to pass it along I'll always do so.

  3. Get the right information to the right person. Sending unsolicited information to someone who doesn’t want it is spamming them. No one likes spam, so don’t send it. Not everyone will be interested in everything you send, that’s ok, but don’t send things that are completely irrelevant.

  4. Be wary of HTML and graphics. This may just be a personal pet peeve, but I feel strongly that HTML e-mails that use multiple typefaces, type sizes, bold, italics, and colors just end up distracting from your message. Any one of these techniques can be used rarely and tastefully to help enhance your message, but remember that less is definitely more in this area.

    I’m sure you’ve all heard the warnings about how different e-mail software displays these things differently, and some people and organizations have settings turned to not display HTML or images. A nicely designed, well-formatted HTML e-mail is fine, but these are rare. If you must use these techniques, be sure to include a link so recipients can view it online.

  5. Keep it simple! If completing your call to action is too complicated or confusing, then your message will be ignored. For example, I recently received an audio card. Usually I won’t open these things, but this one had a good headline on some information I wanted to know and since there was no text, I had no choice but to listen. I clicked and was taken to a Web site. I had to search for the appropriate link and click again, which I did. I was then taken to a page with no clear direction of where to find the audio message, so I grew frustrated and gave up. If you must send your message by audio, I’d recommend keeping the steps needed to access it down to one or two, tops and including the text transcript or summary where people can easily access it instead of the audio if they prefer.

  6. Be professional. There is a time and a place to be cute, but that time rarely happens while you're on the clock. Please carefully reconsider those graphics e-mail backgrounds that can’t be turned off, the hilarious quote you just love, and decorating your signature in a lavender-colored script. Not everyone is going to find it as cute as you do, and it may detract from the message you want to send.

  7. Avoid meaningless words or acronyms. If the first sentence of your e-mail is filled with alphabet soup, or words that are used so often they've become meaningless (quality, value, best fastest, etc.) you're going to lose readers. The MarketingProf's article I read today, Want Better Copy? Take a Tip from Zig Ziglar, reminded me of this point. If you've read to the end of a vendor's description of software or a new product and still wondered what the heck the product actually does, you've experienced this phenomenon. Rather than relying on overused words that have lost any meaning (and trigger our BS detectors), use specific example of why, for example, library resources are better or more trustworthy than those on the Web. Also beware of creating an e-mail that looks like alphabet soup. If you use acronyms be sure to identify what they mean quickly, and too many acronyms, even defined ones, become too confusing. (added 4/10/07)
I’ll be adding to this list as the mood strikes. What am I missing?