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Intensive Customer Service Training

San Jose Public Library

Problem Statement

Libraries have always had a hard time marketing their services and now they face more competition than ever with businesses that have the advantage of high visibility and huge advertising budgets. Streamlined processes, redesigned comfortable, navigable environments are not enough. Libraries need welcoming, smiling, approachable staff who have been trained to provide excellent customer service.


SJPL successfully applied for LSTA grant funds and partnered with the Silicon Valley Library System, Godbe Research and Infopeople to develop intensive customer service training. The training included verbal and written concepts interspersed with experiential exercises to help staff understand why eye contact, facial expression, tone of voice, body language, availability and personal appearance are so vitally important to the quality of customer interactions. The exercises were designed to be engaging and fun as well as instructive, and included a pre-training visit as a customer to an outside library or business.


More than 60% of the staff who participated in the training showed sustained improvement in their use of desirable behaviors and showed significant improvement in 6 of the 8 identified skills that enhance availability, connection and closure.