Today is “Get to Know Your Customers Day” acknowledged on the third Thursday of every quarter (January, April, July, October). It is a reminder for businesses to take the time to get to know the people they assist, their needs, and their wants. This recognition is applicable to any business setting, whether you are a corporation, department store, independent and locally owned business, or in our situation, a University Library.
At the Freeman/Lozier Library we often call customers patrons; however, customers can also be users, borrowers, clients, members, visitors, etc. Which is correct? Which is appropriate? Which is preferred? The answer is totally up to you—all terms are accurate, all can be used interchangeably, Regardless, of how you choose to identify your customers, they should all be treated the same.
There are several customer types. For example, there are price buyers, value buyers, and relationship buyers. We tend to see the relationship buyers, which simply means these patrons want to trust and have dependable relationships with their librarians, and expect librarians to take good care of them. To ensure this happens, there are certain customer service skills necessary, such as:
- Knowledge of the product
- Ability to read customers, communicate clearly, use positive language, and handle surprises
- Goal-oriented focus, time management skills, and a willingness to learn
- Persuasion skills and closing ability
These skills can help you in any situation and more importantly, help you “get to know your customer” and make them feel like they are an important customer.
Some tips to help you know your customer are:
- Asking what they need, not what you think they need.
- Follow up with the customer by asking how the service or resource worked for them, not only will you learn how valuable your product is, but you will also learn more about their needs.
- Network with similar businesses as learning from successful organizations and sharing best practices provides a win-win opportunity.
For any company or business to be successful you must provide your team with the right tools, help customers help themselves, and keep standards high and response times low. Practicing clear communication, speaking in terms your customers can understand, and giving credence to customer complaints can neutralize a potential threat. Educate your team to be data-informed, not data-delusional, make use of strategic automation, and avoid helping customers hastily and rapidly. Lastly, unify your customer service team, take a whole company approach, invest in great people, and compliment and give thanks often.
For more information about getting to know your customers and building relationships, check out the following resources: