I hold a service philosophy close to my heart. Over eight years ago, I started putting this service model into words. I call it PCCM.
Many stores have shifted their focus to customer service and can easily fit into this service model. No matter if you work in a library, in a grocery store, a bank, etc. – your organization has a mission, an approach to customer service, a reason for being. Find it. Pick it apart and figure out how you can relate it to the patron, the customer. Have a personal mission too. Most people need more from their job than making the next dollar. We like to feel needed. We like to help one another.
Librarians are some of the best in people in the service industry. I have implemented my service model into each job I have worked in. In my current role, in library outreach services, this service model works perfectly. Recently I took my service model notes and transformed it into a presentation. What a great experience!
I had the honor of presenting it with my Outreach Services team at the 2015 Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services Library Conference held in St. Charles, Illinois. As I put the presentation together, I realized we had about three hours of material for a one-hour presentation. It was more stressful to cut out parts than to build the three-hour presentation. But with my team’s help, we tweaked it and made it work. Afterwards, we received positive feedback and comments. We had fun talking to the many wonderful people who contribute to outreach success nationwide.
I hope to share a piece of what I have learned in my career and share some wisdom along the way. Here are the highlights of PCCM: A Service Model.
P.C.C.M. = Patron-focus, Communication, Customer Service, and Marketing
When starting a relationship with your community, where do you start?
- Find the right contacts and build trust through transparency and time. These are key to successful community contact relationships.
- Keep the PCCM Service Model in mind every step of the way.
- Balance time and budget.
- Continue to evolve and think outside-the-box.
Patron-Focus. What is Patron-focus? First let’s define a patron. For me, a patron is anyone who I come across. It doesn’t matter if they are 5 years old or 85 years old. It doesn’t matter if they live in my library district or from another state. What matters is someone is asking about the library, about a book, or has a question – where I can guide them to an answer.
- It’s thinking of the patron first – in all we do.
- It’s anticipating patron needs.
Connecting Services. In outreach services, we try to connect our patrons in the community with the physical library building and the services we provide. Each library is different, but we all have this in common – patrons. To serve them best, we try to discover what they need. Once we know that, we can provide them with matching services. Here are a few of the connecting services my library provides:
- Readers Advisory (matching reading materials with people)
- Home Delivery Service
- Special Events (ie: Book Lovers Day)
- Illinois Talking Books (state program associated with the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped)
- Special Needs Task Force (group of librarians to work toward finding resources for patrons and staff to assist with a special need – such as: blindness, autism, etc.)
- Multi-sensory Memory Kits (a program kit to work with patrons who have early onset dementia and Alzheimer’s)
Communication. Communication can be the hardest part of the model to implement. We communicate in various ways – in-person, email, phone, social media, etc. We speak different languages and we show our understanding, or lack there of, through body language. Some people are serious and some like joking around. The trick is communicating simply where most people will understand your message.
- Know the Library and its resources. It’s a vital piece to our success for Outreach to think “BIG PICTURE” and to include every patron, every librarian, every library.
Understanding ‘the big picture’ means:
- having a basic understanding of the mission of the organization,
- knowing how the hierarchy plays a role in providing services, and
- learning who provides – what services.
Communication ties together all of the behind-the-scenes work with those who we serve.
- Keep the communication open between the community and the library (physical buildings).
- Keep the communication open between ‘us’ (library/store) and ‘them’ (patrons).
Customer Service. In Outreach, we like to host a party and make sure our patrons are comfortable. By making people feel they are welcome, they not only will take part in what you are doing, they will return.
- Present a welcoming, engaging environment.
- Smile. Have fun.
- Develop key phrases to say to patrons pertaining to various service areas/scenarios. This shows we are on the same page and we are offering the same services to everyone.
Marketing. Finding the creative edge can be simple and fun. It’s important to not push an agenda and remember the purpose for our being there is to fill a community need and provide a service.
- Present yourself as ambassadors of goodwill.
- One Outreach Services goal is to market the library, to get patrons into the buildings.
- Make it FUN by creating opportunities to engage the patron.
I believe that once a relationship has formed with an organization, a group, or an individual – you can start promoting services and programs. We choose one service and one program to hand out monthly (one hand out could be a program newsletter). We call this our monthly PUSH from our annual plan. If you try to promote too much, you lose the attention of the patron.
I’m standing with an Elvis Presley cut-out at a local senior services exposition.
We decided to bring Elvis because we knew the older adult population would relate to him and be drawn to our table. Within five minutes of opening the exposition, a patron came over and asked “Why is Elvis here?” (patron-focus)
We then had an opportunity to speak to the people coming over to our table. We asked if they had library cards, if they had questions about the library, and if they were aware of various services and programs.(communication)
The table had information, a spinning wheel, and prizes. We were able to offer library information and library cards while drawing the person to the table. (customer service)
A patron asked “And why is the sign by his swivel hips?” My response was simple and fun “Well you saw the sign, didn’t you?” And if a person wasn’t necessarily attracted by the location of the sign (location, location, location), the word FREE drew their attention. (marketing)
PCCM is a base for the services I provide as a librarian. It is also a base for the training I give. If everyone in the service industry understood the “big picture” of their organization and kept these four service points in mind, it would improve the patron experience and keep the behind-the-scenes roles more focused.
This was a very brief overview of the service model. But I hope I gave a basic understanding of the main points: Patrons. Communication. Customer Service. Marketing.
If you have any questions about this service model, please let me know.
~I’m here to help.
Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services (ABOS) The mission “is to support and encourage government officials, library administrators, trustees, and staff in the provision of quality bookmobile and outreach services to meet diverse community information and programming needs. ABOS is comprised of libraries of all types and sizes.” http://abos-outreach.org/
Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services (OLOS) “drives activities around three professional issues which collectively support equity and inclusion as fundamental values of the association. Relationships and major initiatives undertaken by the Office across these three issues help ensure the inclusion of diverse perspectives within our profession and association to best position ALA as a trusted, leading advocate for equitable access to library services for all.” http://www.ala.org/offices/diversity
National Customer Service Association (NCSA) “is the membership organization in the United States that will equip you, its members, with the information and skills to build and nurture enduring customer relationships. Our vision is ‘Excellence in service for every customer—internal and external—every time.'” http://www.nationalcsa.com/
International Customer Service Association (ICSA) “Our Mission is to advance, strengthen, and promote the industry of Professional Customer Service. We exist to assist individuals and organizations with their professional growth, development, and recognition, and to link service professionals world-wide.” http://icsatoday.org/