Public Scolding Can Kill Employee Morale & Customer Service

by Jude Carter

Last week I was on a bicycle trip in Connecticut. We found ourselves in a high-traffic area and decided to look for an alternate route. We’d heard through the cycling grapevine that there was a great trail that had been converted from an old trolley line. The problem was we couldn’t figure out where to access it. We asked a few people on the street, but no one knew, so we tried the public library.

We asked the woman at the reference desk if she knew where the trail started. She had no idea, so she phoned her supervisor. The boss shows up, obviously displeased. Without looking at us, or clarifying our request, she began berating the worker for her poor research techniques. Pushing her way to the keyboard, she began hunting for books on bicycle touring. Huh? Meanwhile, the employee was completely embarrassed, especially because her boss was making quite a scene and now all the patrons were curious as to what was going on. Fortunately for us, the head librarian, a seasoned professional, came to the rescue with the answer and some insider information on the bike trail.

Given the precarious future of our public libraries, you’d think they’d be extra-focused on delivering great customer service. Besides being courteous and professional, that means actually listening to the customers’ requests, and helping them find the information they need. Public humiliation of employees leaves a lasting impression on customers and can really kill workplace morale.

Thank goodness Google doesn’t scold me for my choice of keywords when I’m hunting for answers!

Jude Carter
September 10, 2010

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