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Informal Comments

St. Louis County Library

Innovation Leader: Charles Pace, Director, cpace@slcl.org

Problem Statement

Customer feedback is often difficult to obtain through traditional means such as written comment and suggestion forms or comments submitted online. This is largely because customers do not wish to take the time to write something down. The feedback received from written sources is, more often than not, negative in nature and potentially gives the incorrect impression that our services and programs are not well-received or valued by our customers. While few people take the time to complete a formal comment form, nearly everyone is willing to share comments verbally with the staff, both positive and negative feedback. Prior to 2009, St. Louis County Library did not have a formal means of collecting this feedback; therefore, the majority of these comments rarely reached the eyes and ears of those who were positioned to enact changes.

Innovation

Beginning in 2009, all locations of St. Louis County Library began keeping a clipboard on which staff records the steady stream of verbal comments, complaints, and suggestions. Staff members record this feedback at all locations on a monthly basis, and it is distributed to the entire administration and to key managers in the organization.

Progress

This method of gathering feedback dramatically increased the total number of comments or suggestions recorded for the consideration of managers and administration. In a typical month, 400-500 customer comments are recorded by front line staff. Over the past two years, St. Louis County Library implemented numerous changes which affected both the public and the staff. Many of these changes were enacted in response to the customers’ verbal comments which were recorded by staff. The feedback gathered in the period immediately following a change in services, programs, or procedures provides an immediate evaluation of the effectiveness of a change. Each month, specific comments are targeted as action items, while others are passed along to specific staff for consideration. These comments allow us to continually refine our practices as an organization to better meet the needs of our customers while greatly improving the overall customer experience.