by Emma Pinault, Head Editor, INALJ Delaware
Customer Service Tips for Introverts
As an introvert working in a library, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. While not all of us fall into this personality type, many of us were attracted to librarianship because we enjoy quiet time spent with books. Working with patrons, however, requires honing our customer service and people skills. Here are some tips to keep in mind, whether you’re behind the desk or roving in the stacks:
Smile and make eye contact. Many patrons hesitate to approach the reference desk and ask for help. For some, this is because they know what they’re looking for, or they’re happy to browse the stacks and don’t want to be bothered. Others, though, may be shy or anxious about looking uninformed, and a friendly greeting can break the ice.
Listen. Chances are, if you’re an introvert, you’re probably pretty good at listening. Use your strengths! If a patron asks for help, a good reference interview can help ensure that you’re finding what they need, as well as establishing a rapport. Stepping up to the desk to ask a question for the first time can be difficult, but if a patron has a positive experience with a librarian who’s a good listener, they’re more likely to come back.
Know your library and its services. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the various databases and other information resources your library offers. Got a free fifteen minutes, or a slow shift behind the desk? Take the time to browse a database you haven’t had a chance to examine closely yet. Know what programs are taking place at your library this month. You’ll feel more confident answering questions and talking to patrons about what the library can offer.
Watch patrons’ body language. If you’re out on the floor or walking through the stacks, pay attention to whether patrons seem lost, uncertain, or simply engrossed in browsing. Some patrons may not be interested in talking to a librarian or anyone else, and would prefer to be left alone with the books – a friendly smile lets these patrons know you’re there to help if they need anything. But if a patron is looking around like they’re trying to find something and don’t know where it is, it might be time to make the first move and introduce yourself.