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October 13, 2005

Good Employees = Good Customers

I am submitting a true "blog" post with something I'm introducing to bellog: Perspectives. Any of the BEL faculty and AP's may post a perspective here, but I'm guessing I will be the one who will post an entry more often.

For years, I have been a fan of Len Berry, marketing professor at Texas A & M University, and now a professor of humanities in the College of Medicine. He has published a number of articles and books related to customer service. His most famous research has to do with the perceptions of customers vs what company/institutional employees have of service provision.

One of my business book treasures is Discovering the Soul of Service. Partly, it has to do with Len signing it as a parting gift, but mainly because Berry wrote that it was important to have happy employees in order to have happy customers. Seems so simple, but we lose sight of it in the thick of things, especially if you are an entrepreneur, or an intrapreneur
(which I tend to be).

I believe him. I also believe it's more important to have good employees in order to have good customers. BEL's staff may not always be the happiest, for various reasons, among them personal with health or otherwise, but they are good.

Sure, we have our strengths and weaknesses. As much as we would like, we cannot provide every service to all. There are some limitations we have because some of our vendors are far behind our customers' needs--or sometimes too far ahead. Hitting the adoption curve of technology or content at the right time is a challenge for us. It's as much as adoption in the library world as it is adaptation (not to be confused with the movie).

When I leave town on business, vacation, sick leave, or for performing research, I don't fret over BEL's operations because we have good staff who are not only dependable or courteous (we strive for both), but also knowledgeable. They know others to call in the building, and if they don't, they will ask someone. They will ask me too if they need to do so. Their commitment to customer service allows me to work on the business most of the time, as well as in the business some of the time. I've noticed that a few units in our local library land are trying to snare a couple of our employees because they've heard they are good and are very capable of taking on more duties than their job description and exhibit good collegiality.

On Monday, one of newer employees formerly in the corporate world, has decided to take the leap to a career in the academy or tenure-track: librarianship, research, and service. It is a tremendous undertaking because the first two aspects require excellence and continuity; the third needs to be "pretty darn good." One other librarian we hired 3 years ago also chose this path from being in the corporate world. The academy seems to agree with that professor, and is on the way to tenure.

We have another librarian who is a natural with technology and business librarianship; this person helped develop our virtual pages, including this blog.

Our GAs are really curious, customer-service oriented, and confident, but not overly so. They ask questions when they need to know, but are so eager to learn much on their own.

The student workers have brought in their friends to help them with library services as well as doing what they can for our regular students and faculty. I've enjoyed working with them on a Monday evening.

Overall, I'm good with this team. And yes, good employees do draw in good customers too.

Posted by Becky at October 13, 2005 6:40 PM Posted to Perspectives