I love my library. It’s steps away from me, just across an adjacent street. I order books online, then pop over and pick them up. So convenient.
But not everything in this newly rebuilt library is convenient — at least not for its patrons. There is a glaring problem where staff convenience won out over patron service.
I take responsibility for not making sure this type of thing would not happen when the new library was designed. They held numerous community meetings to hear what patrons wanted, and in the designers’ defense, they incorporated many cool, state-of-the art features. I didn’t attend any of them as I was traveling and knew they were well attended by my smart neighbors.
Which makes this one decision a glaring one to me. How could this oversight happen with so many community members attending the design meetings?
What’s the problem I find so egregious?
The book return slot is at the back of the building and requires one to either walk down a narrow driveway or get out of their car to return books. Not that I’m endorsing laziness, but previously there was a drive-by drop bin (like a curbside postal box) that made it easy to return books. My library is on a busy street, so it would have made even more sense to put a book drop-off box on the street in a white-curbed zone so people could just pull over and drop off their books.
But now even pedestrians have to go through the library and out the other side to drop off books in the designated slot. If the library is closed, they have to walk down the narrow driveway to the drop-off slot, sharing the driveway with any cars doing the same.
I scratched my head about how the designers could be so clueless about customer service and convenience, so I finally asked the head librarian. “Help me understand the logic in having the drop-off slot at the back and without the car drop off capability? What am I missing?”
He shook his head. “This is asked a lot. It is for the library staff’s convenience. They don’t have to go out in the weather to retrieve the books as they did when we had the drive through drop box.”
Ah, so the staff doesn’t have to go out and roll in a cart twice a day, hundreds of patrons a week are inconvenienced? Does this make sense? It’s not as if the weather is torturous — it’s Northern California for goodness sake! The weather is moderate. The book bins are on wheels so it doesn’t take a lot of brawn to move them.
- Are your processes for the convenience of your staff or your customer?
- If for your staff, can you reengineer the process so it is works for both parties?
- Have you asked your customers how you can make all aspects of doing business with you easier? If so, do you take action on what they say?
- When was the last time you looked at your processes from the customer experience perspective?
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