Sunday, July 5, 2020

How to run curbside pickup

The key to running a quality curbside pickup routine at your library comes down to using a clear, concise, and minimalist script. When library patrons call on the phone they may have experienced your curbside pickup dozens of times or be encountering it for the first, bewildering time. Walking them through the process in an understandable and quick manner without wasting time re-informing previous users of things they already know is essential, especially if your curbside pickup is anywhere near as busy as it is at my own enormously popular library.

My library runs close to 300 curbside pickups a day on our busiest days. Peak hours have seen close to a pickup a minute. This is why we have refined and perfected our dialogue with our patrons. Each word is selected for maximum impact and clarity. And every step of our discussion is designed to lead the curbside pickup process along as quickly and uncomplicatedly as possible.

For those of you who are just thinking of designing a new curbside pickup program, or to those of you who merely need a few improvements to the one you are already running, please study our minutely crafted dialogue below. Not every one of our steps or layout will be the same as yours, but as you adapt our script remember to change as little as possible, and when you do always remember: each word should both instruct and move the interaction forward. If it doesn't, like we have, scrap it. Curbside pickup is too labor intensive to allow for the niceties of pre pandemic library work. And patrons tend to be appreciative in this environment of the very fact of curbside delivery, so don't be afraid to move it along.

Below is our curbside delivery script. Study it. Follow it. And stick to it. If you do I guarantee your curbside pickup will run smoothly for as long as it takes: until a vaccine, until millions are dead in this country, or both. 

Probably both.

Staff:  Good afternoon, Happytown Library.

Patron:  Hello Happytown Library. How are you?

Staff: I'm about a seven, but I decline to say out of how many. How may I help you?

Patron:  I would like to pickup some books.

Staff: Great. Are these already being held for you or do you want ones off the shelf?

Patron: Yes.

Staff: They're on hold for you?

Patron: Yes. They're on the shelf.

Staff:  So you'd like someone to pull books off the shelf for you?

Patron:  Yes. I have some books on hold for me on the shelf. Can I come get them today?

Staff:  Yes. I just need your barcode number off your library card so I can check them out to you and prepare them for pickup.

Patron: Yes. I've done this several times already. I understand how it works.

Staff:  Great. So if you'll just read me your library card number...

Patron:  Is this in my computer?

Staff:  No. It is a secured number so generally it will be only on your card.

Patron: I don't have it with me and I'm driving. Is there anything else you can use.

Staff: Unfortunately due to account protection I'll need your card number to check out to you.

Patron:  I don't have that with me. This is most inconvenient!

Staff:  If you call back later when you have it we can set your curbside pickup for you right away.

Patron:  Wait. Let me get it out of my wallet. 

(Extended period of ambient noises)

Patron:  You'd like the number?

Staff:  Yes, please. Go ahead.

Patron:  Are you ready?

Staff:  Yes.

Patron:  (Haltingly reads a 12 digit number)

Staff:  There would be two more digits to that.

Patron:  (Tries again)

Staff:  There would still be two more digits to that.

Patron:  Drat. I thought I had it memorized. I'm so used to typing it in. It's hard when you have to say it instead. I better get my card out of my wallet.

Staff:  Great.

(Extended period of ambient noises)

Patron:  Okay, I've got it. Are you ready?

Staff:  Go ahead.

Patron:  (Reads a 14 digit number).

Staff:  Great. Thank you. But it doesn't look like you have any books on hold for you on your account.

Patron:  That's odd. They called and told me I had books in and that I should call to arrange pickup.

Staff:  That is odd. (Explores record for a bit). It looks like you have had some items checked out to you today. Did you call earlier?

Patron:  Yes I did. They told me to call again when I was here to pick up my books.

Staff:  Ah. So are you here?

Patron:  I wanted to let you know I was on my way. I'll be there in about half an hour.

Staff:  You don't need to do that. Just call us when you're actually here at the blue umbrella pickup spot and tell us your books are already checked out to you. We'll run them outside for you to grab.

Patron: Got it. Understood. I've done this tons of times already. I know how it works.

Staff:  Splendid. See you soon.

Patron:  Can I just say that I so appreciate this. None of this is easy for anyone and it means so much to me to be able to still get books. You people are real heroes. I swear this is saving my life still having the library to use. Thank you! 

Staff:  You're very welcome.

Patron:  Can I see about getting two more things?

Staff:  I'll transfer you to reference. Hold on.

Patron:  Thanks, I was hoping to...

(Transfer kicks in. End of interaction)

Will all of your interactions go as perfectly as this? No, of course not. But if you aim for this and stick with it I guarantee your curbside pickup will only grow quicker and more productive.

Good luck.

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