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Customer Service Checklist

Denver Public Library, CO
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Innovation Summary

DPL’s Customer Service Checklist Committee implemented a one page checklist based on the book, The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande. Training was crafted to coach leadership teams who in turn coached their staff teams. The outcome was to improve system wide consistency and achieve a high level of customer service.

Problem Statement

Well designed checklists can improve outcomes, as the book points outs, no matter how expert you may be. The team's challenge was to adapt this concept to library customer service and design a precise, efficient and easy to use checklist providing reminders of the most critical and important steps. Introduction of the checklist was an opportunity to create an innovative training tool and provide staff with techniques to facilitate adoption of the checklist. Through consistency and inspire confidence. Staff was challenged to use the checklist in their daily work to welcome, connect with, inquire, listen assist demonstrate empathy and good communication skills, resolve concerns, and appreciate customers. Supervisors were provided with a guide to excellence presentation too so share with staff and an Excellent Customer Service Experience (EXCEL) large checklist observation sheet to observe and coach staff in the finer points of the nine checklist categories. Supervisors used the observation opportunities to coach and praise staff and as documentation for annual performance review ratings. Peer Recognition Boards sprouted up across the library as colleagues recognized and appreciated each other's unique talents and skills. Staff observed successfully adopting the nine EXCEL critical steps earned an EXCEL badge placed on their Staffweb profile.


The Customer Service Checklist initiative was designed and implemented with front line staff in the latter half of 2012. Listed below are the critical process steps for implementation of the innovation. 1. Recommendation and approval to introduce a 2012 Customer Service Checklist initiative based on the The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande. 2. Customer Service Checklist Committee creates designs, prints and distributes the small and large customer service checklist and desktop background for staff computers. 3. Customer Service Checklist Committee creates the Guide to Excellence Prezi, presenting everything you need to know to provide excellent customer service every day. Including the video, You Be the Judge, good and bad customer service scenario produced by staff. 4. Five good and bad service scenarios on communication, attitude, job knowledge, empathy and resolution developed for discussion and to be loosely performed by staff with room to improvise. 5. Supervisors provided with tools and techniques to model, observe, coach and reward staff adoption of the checklist. 6. Staff were encouraged to refer to small checklist at the beginning and end of each shift. 7. Every staff group creates their version of peer recognition board, posts notes applauding the efforts of coworkers and gives out small rewards. 8. Staff earned EXCEL badges posted on their Staffweb profile for successfully adopting the nine critical steps on the customer service checklist.


Anticipated outcomes were staff adoption of the checklist during daily work and that supervisors would observe, coach and reward checklist practices. Checklist Committee hoped to achieve the highest level of customer satisfaction, consistency for customer experiences, an increase in staff confidence during delivery of service and a connection between daily practices observed by supervisors and staff annual performance review ratings. Approximately 290 staff achieved EXCEL badges with representation from every department and branch. This accomplishment was celebrated at a February 2013 All Staff Meeting. An unexpected triumph was the wide and joyous adoption of peer recognition boards, areas where staff shared compliments and praise for one another. Staff contributed photos of their boards and shared success stories through a Staffweb blog post. Reference Department staff created a wonderful knitted border and sun for their board and on average 71 slips written by colleagues for colleagues were posted monthly. The checklists provided standards for staff to track achievement and gauge success while giving supervisors the necessary tools to improve customer service. Increased recognition coupled with a rise in positive customer interactions had the bonus effect of positively impacting staff’s general outlook and confidence. DPL conducted a Customer Service Satisfaction Survey in January 2013 achieving a 97% overall customer satisfaction rating and a 97% satisfaction rating with staff. Many but not all annual performance reviews completed in February 2013 included checklist accomplishments and in some cases development plans for improvement.