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Customer Service Skills for Culturally Diverse Communities Instructor: Jean Crossman-Miranda, MFT An Infopeople Workshop Spring-Fall.

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Presentation on theme: "Customer Service Skills for Culturally Diverse Communities Instructor: Jean Crossman-Miranda, MFT An Infopeople Workshop Spring-Fall."— Presentation transcript:

1 Customer Service Skills for Culturally Diverse Communities Instructor: Jean Crossman-Miranda, MFT An Infopeople Workshop Spring-Fall 2007

2 This Workshop Is Brought to You By the Infopeople Project Infopeople is a federally-funded grant project supported by the California State Library. It provides a wide variety of training to California libraries. Infopeople workshops are offered around the state and are open registration on a first-come, first-served basis. For a complete list of workshops, and for other information about the project, go to the Infopeople website at

3 Workshop Overview Interpersonal skills necessary to satisfy – and exceed – customer expectations Basics of effectively serving multicultural customers Cultural norms, needs, and expectations of customers from diverse communities Handling unusual or difficult library customer interactions Good translation resources

4 The Japanese refer to a customer as “o-kyaku-san,” which is the word used for a visitor in your home.

5 Our Customers Need to Feel... Welcome Understood Important, respected Comfortable and cared for ….that their problem(s) has been solved

6 Why Do Multicultural Customers Come to the Library? What are they looking for? What are their expectations for: –libraries? –librarians? On the other hand… What do we want from customers?

7 Role of Libraries in Other Cultures National libraries acquire and preserve items of cultural heritage University and academic libraries Research libraries for technical, industrial, and specialized occupations Many are not open or free to the public Many have no-lending policy

8 Characteristics of Superior Customer Service –Reliability –Assurance –Credibility –Empathy –Responsiveness –Tangibles

9 Culture is Like an Iceberg Food, Music, Dress, Language Norms, Values, Expectations, Assumptions, Habits, Dislikes, Attitudes, Rules, Roles, Status, Tradition, Mores, Behaviors, Family Structures, Communication Patterns

10 The “Rules” Are Different Cultural blunders –misunderstanding –miscommunication –conflict

11 Sources of Intercultural Misunderstanding Language Nonverbal signals Cultural values Expectations of behavior Ethnocentrism Stereotyping, preconceptions Expectations about the environment Lack of knowledge about another culture Lack of sensitivity to differences between people Prejudice, racism, discrimination

12 Cultural Disconnect: Slogans Chevy Nova –“does not go” Ford Pinto –“tiny male genitals” “Come alive with Pepsi” in Germany –“come alive out of the grave” Coca Cola in China (“Ke-kou-ke-la”) –“bite the wax tadpole”

13 The Big Picture One culture cannot be judged by the standards or values of another. The assumptions we make about people determine, in large part, how we interact with them.

14 How Do Cultures Differ? How we view Time Our sense of Space Whether we value the Individual or the Group Whether we emphasize Tasks or Relationships The importance of Saving Face

15 Sense of Time Elastic or rigid? Important to be on time for an appointment? Other priorities more pressing than commitments and schedules?

16 Sense of Space Personally and professionally Crowding Side-by-side or face-to-face? Psychological space Touching someone you don’t know What is considered polite? rude?

17 Individual or Group Orientation? Cultures that value the Group –self is viewed and decisions are made within context of group and by assessing how the action will affect others in the group –benefit of the whole group is kept in mind –person may be embarrassed to be singled out, even for praise

18 Tasks or Relationship Orientation? Task-oriented culture –getting down to business right away –don’t like idle small talk Relationship-oriented culture –want to get to know you before getting down to business –rapport building comes first

19 Saving Face Preserving one’s dignity and respect –takes precedence over everything else Rejection or perceptions of inadequacy –matter of honor –can cause shame Never point out customer’s mistakes

20 Other Behaviors to Notice Animation/emotion – neutral, restrained, passionate – OK in public? Directness/indirectness - facing speaker, response Eye Contact – when speaking, listening Gestures – frequency, expressiveness Turn taking and pause time – urgency, status Vocal patterns – range of volume, pitch

21 Follow Your Customer’s Lead Be sensitive Be flexible Spend time Be patient

22 Flexibility Is Key Different cultures conduct business differently What is customary and acceptable in one culture may be unacceptable in another Find out the customer’s expectations regarding comfort, respect, and courtesy

23 Useful Phrases Try not to say “No.” This causes customers to lose face, and they often find it rude. –“I can help you better if you do this….” –“That will be very difficult.” –“I am not sure that can be arranged.” –“I will see what I can do.” –“Which do you prefer?”

24 Listening to Word Choice Be sure customers put their needs before yours. Listen for statements like: –“Whatever you think is best” –“How do you feel about….” Customers may try to satisfy you, not themselves.

25 Overview of Effective Multicultural Customer Service Greet your customers Establish rapport Determine, meet, and exceed customer expectations Bridge language and accent barriers –when speaking and listening

26 Useful Language Resources Cheat sheet with basic phrases in other language Where to find? –in your collection: phrase books, maps, bilingual materials, dictionaries –websites/webliographies Phone interpretation services Connection with local resources: businesses, cultural groups/centers, schools & universities

27 More Cultural Disconnection “I saw the Pope” – T-shirts printed in Miami –I saw the potato “Finger-lickin’ Good” in China –Eat your fingers off “It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken” –It takes a hard man to make a chicken aroused (Mexico) “Turn it loose” - Coors beer in Latin America –Suffer from diarrhea

28 Reading Body Language Culturally determined and learned Ambiguous and open to interpretation Just a few universals: smiles, laughter, sour expressions Smiling and laughter can indicate confusion Listen for voice tone, inflection, pauses

29 “We respond to gestures with an extreme alertness and…in accordance with an elaborate and secret code that is written nowhere, known by none, and understood by all.” Edward Sapir

30 Two Types of Gestures Illustrators –hands illustrate speech Emblems –have precise meanings

31 Development of Gestures: by Decade New gestures are always being created –1940’s - thumbs up –1950’s – square –1960’s – peace sign –1970’s – whoopee (twirl finger) –1980’s – gag me –1990’s – stupid

32 General Cultural No-no’s Buddhist cultures, head is sacred – no touching Muslim cultures: the left hand is considered unclean: no touch, pass, receive, or eat Pointing with index finger is rude in many cultures Pointing toward yourself insults the other person Open hand over closed fist in France Saying “tsk tsk” in Kenya Whistling in India

33 Idioms from the U.S. He tried to throw his weight around. He put his foot in his mouth. I gave her a piece of my mind. It’s raining cats and dogs. Break a leg. I’ll eat my hat. She kicked the bucket. They bit the dust.

34 Idioms from Japan He has a crooked belly button. –the person is contrary or negative She has a higher nose. –she is proud - a good thing It’s like pounding a nail into tofu. –something that is futile or hopeless The nail that sticks up gets pounded down. –being unique or different gets you punished

35 Idioms from Ireland Your dress is massive. –your dress is very attractive. Jack left a black dog. –Jack left an unpaid bill. He’s a pavi. –he is tough and uncouth. That Mary’s septic. –Mary is extremely vain and affected.

36 The Big Ones What are some of the most difficult situations you have had to handle in providing service to diverse customers? How did you handle them? What did you try? What was successful? What was unsuccessful?

37 Lost in Translation: Signage Thailand dry cleaner: “Drop your trousers here for best results.” Paris Hotel Elevator: “Please leave your values at the front desk.” Japanese Hotel: “You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid.” Paris Dress Shop: “Dresses for streetwalking”

38 Quickly Found Resources Your Collection –phrasebooks –dictionaries –bilingual material –maps Websites, other libraries Speakers bureaus Restaurants Local Resources Business community Consulates, legal Universities & schools Community centers Newspapers, publishers Health & medical

39 What Needs to Be Translated for Multicultural Library Customers?  Signage  Library rules, policies, procedures, FAQ’s  Schedules, flyers of events  How-to’s (e.g., sign up for/use computer)  Displays  Publicity and outreach materials

40 Job Aids for Customers Laminated sheets in different languages Checklist of services for customer to check off what s/he needs Use diagrams and pictures as much as possible –map of layout of library Use calendars showing dates, times, events

41 Job Aids for Library Staff Laminated sheets in different languages: –greetings –questions –directions and Instructions –phrases –customer service guidelines and/or checklist List of phone/online interpretation services

42 Local Translators and Translation Services Create job aids, do presentations, volunteer, be on call to answer questions, or speak to a customer Do walk-around evaluation of library layout and materials placement Advise on collection, materials, “must-haves” Advise on intercultural communication and appropriate customer service

43 Restaurant Mistranslations Dreaded veal cutlet (Vietnam) Pork with fresh garbage (China) Cold shredded children (China) French creeps (U.S.) Strawberry crap (Japan) Toes with butter and jam (Bali)

44 Malmö, Sweden Library’s “Check Out a Person” Program

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