These 3 Keys for Getting Library Customers to Use Self-Service Are Going to Change Your Service Model!

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One morning I was using the kiosk at the airport to check-in for my flight. Self-service check-in is something I do, all of the time. I like using self-service, and most of the time, I know what I’m doing. But on this day, something went wrong, and I wasn’t able to print my ticket.

An employee with the airline noticed I was stuck. She walked over and asked if I needed help with anything. I told her what my problem was. She stood, facing me, and looking over the kiosk, so that the kiosk was actually upside down for her. And from that position, she walked me through what I needed to proceed.

Two things about this encounter struck me. First, the employee “noticed” that I needed help. That means she was watchful and willing. I didn’t have to stand there and struggle, and I didn’t have to hunt anyone down.

The second thing I noticed was, she didn’t just do it for me. The employee walked me through the steps, which helps me to be able to do it myself next time.

In this article, I’m going to show you how to spot when it’s time for you to step up, and help a customer use self-service, much like the airport employee did for me.

Self-service at the library must be a smooth and quick experience. This means it has to be easy for customers, and customers have to “like” using self-service tools.

You can make self-service easy and enjoyable by jumping in at the moment your customer needs assistance. There are 3 steps you can take to make self-service work.

Key 1: Observe

Stand back and let customers approach self-service. Those who know what they’re doing don’t like to be bothered. But keep an eye out for people using the options for the first time. Just glance over at customers as they use your self-service so that you know when your help is needed.

Key 2: Act


If a customer’s body language tells you they are confused, frustrated, or stuck this is where you jump in. Your help will be welcome to anyone who is having a little trouble.

When you act, don’t just do it for the customer. Walk them through the steps and offer helpful hints. The goal, when you help out, is to empower customers to be able to use self-service on their own.

Key 3: Smile and Maintain Open Body Language, Whether Customer’s Need Your Assistance Or Not

This will help you appear to be willing and eager to help, and customer’s notice this gesture.

Be watchful as your customers use self-service options. Look for nonverbal cues that tell you they need help. When you do help, make sure you give customers the tips they need, so that next time, they can use self-service on their own. When you do these things, your customers will come to appreciate self-service, and use it more often.

I’ve made it easy for you to train your library branch to help customers use your self-service options with this short video.

Myra is a favorite training partner to public libraries and Fortune 500 companies with her customized, engaging, behavior-changing (and fun) customer service workshops, working with Tulsa City-County Library, Oklahoma Library Association, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Frito-Lay, Michelin, Vera Bradley, and other brands. She’s also an Author at LinkedIn Learning.

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