6/10/15 Customer Service

To me, customer service is mainly boils down to your knowledge base. If you have a working, and comprehensive understanding of the products you’re selling and can articulate the reasons for it being something the customer is interested in. Of course there is the common customer service role of answering simple questions, going to great lengths to make sure the customer is getting the product they want, but in the end, anyone can do that. And when it comes to bookstores anyone can look a book up in a computer and order something special delivery, or find the last copy of The Corrections which was hidden on the crowded bookshelf. But having a thorough understanding of why the book is ironic, funny, and a cynical, yet realistic look at the contemporary american family isn’t something everyone can articulate.

In my eyes customer service boils down to knowledge. Do you have it, or don’t you? While a broader sense of the industry is helpful as well, it is also something that can be learned while on the job. Working for a bookstore, isn’t just about helping someone find what they are looking for. It’s also about helping people discover something new. Leading them on a journey to find a author they hadn’t heard of. As bookstore a bookstore employee you do have some surprising power when it comes to suggestion. If you have read similar books as a customer and can relate on why the book was interesting and thought provoke, or a page turner, that customer will probably listen to your suggestion if you know of a book that is similar.

So customer service is many things. It’s helping customers find what they are looking for, it’s helping them understand the industry, but it’s also relating to the customer and the books they read. It’s having a deep knowledge base of what you’re selling and what they are buying. Someone who knows what they are talking about is much more likely to be of help to a customer than someone who isn’t sure what kind of book A Tale for The Time Being is. Someone who can engage a customer in the nuances between fiction and nonfiction can inspire customers to try something new, pick up a different genre, or delve back into a book they had once thought was too long, too wordy, or not interesting.

While working at a bookstore, sales are important and need to be a focus, it’s also important to remember to be genuine and help the customers find the books they will enjoy the most. This is why it’s important not only to have a knowledge base of the industry (which can be learned) but a specific knowledge of literature, creative nonfiction, philosophy, or any other kind of writing can make you an invaluable asset to a bookstore team. When someone is asking questions, for instance, about a novel, I wouldn’t have any qualms about fielding questions about how the specific book was written (assuming I’ve read it) and if I haven’t I probably have read a review of it if it is a new release. Being an expert in my fiction isn’t only about writing, but it’s also about reading it. I enjoy fiction to a great extent and always enjoy passing my enthusiasm on to others.

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