Last week I attended the CPD25 course on Customer Care. I must admit that my expectations were low, as a colleague who attended these sessions last year had told me that this was the course she got the least out of. However, I tried to keep an open mind.
The session started off ok. I got there about half an hour early and the room hadn’t been unlocked yet – I got the chance to chat with some people who I hadn’t spoken to before – and the course leader introduced herself. I then got co-opted into helping rearrange the tables and chairs when we finally got in. I got to discussing web 2.0, twitter, wikis etc with another attendee while we waited for the other people to arrive (this was probably the high point of the session).
Once we started (a few minutes late, as always on these courses), the first task was to discuss in groups any jobs we had done before which were relevant to customer care (in my group these were – waitress, teaching assistant, sales assistant, enroller, and telephone sales assistant), and list what the relevant skills were (prioritisation, sense of humour, courtesy, patience, reassuring, deal with repetitive work, knowledge, initiative, approachable, understanding body language). This was interesting, hearing what jobs people had done before their library careers.
The course leader then spoke about the idea of customer care starting with the background stuff – book ordering, cataloguing quickly etc, and also with the layout of the library. The next section of the session involved the homework we were supposed to have done (which I hadn’t!) – visiting a library other than the one we work in, and making notes. In groups we went round and those who had done the homework said where they had been, and what the good and bad points of the library were. Having done this each person then reported back to the whole room – and were asked to give the library they had visited points out of ten – I have no idea how this was supposed to help us learn anything. There was a lot of going off topic about the layouts of specific libraries and who designed them, which was mildly interesting, but not a good use of time in a 2 hour training session. I can appreciate that the layout of a library has an impact on customer care, but this was not really something worth spending such a long time on.
We were then given a list of skills and competencies for a library assistant position – and had to choose which were Essential and which Desirable. I found this difficult with no idea of what job the library assistant would be doing (it is a bit of a generic job title). We were also given a document of Service Standards, which included Ten Golden Rules for Customer Satisfaction (such as be professional and friendly and don’t be afraid to say sorry) – this was of more use/interest.
Overall I didn’t find this session very useful. I learnt very little about customer care, and spent much of the time feeling frustrated. I definitely agree with my colleague, that this has been the least useful of all the CPD25 sessions (so far!).