Customer Service

One of the things my store prides itself on is our high level of customer service. This means that if you come into my store with only one or two pieces of information about a book, we’ll try our hardest to figure out the answer. Every now and then, we get some rather silly requests, such as the person a few holidays ago who called on Christmas Eve and asked in a strange, high voice for books on “Monkeys? Monkeys doing things like humans”—turns out he wanted photos of monkeys having sex. I had a friend who worked at a Borders in Braintree who said that they had a customer say they knew the title, but not the author and could they help them? “The title is Dante’s Inferno.”

When the floor staff can’t figure it out, they usually call me to play what we call Stump the Bookseller. Today it was a book that had been on our front nonfiction table within the last few months, subject is something like Africa and economic development, and was reviewed in the Economist. Well, then. I threw out a few suggestions, none correct. Hung up, went back to work for a few minutes, then it came to me. Of course the customer had already gone by then, but I raced down to the floor just in case. I love the challenge of figuring these things out, like a test of my memory.
Oh, the book I think they were looking for was The Bottom Billion by Paul Collier.

5 thoughts on “Customer Service

  1. Richard

    I’m a bookseller myself, but sometimes get too irritated by a customers lack of effort in finding anything out about what they’re after themselves to really rise to the challenge.

    Instead I like to ask mock questions such as, “do you know how much the book weighs, approximately?” and see if I can get a considered answer.


  2. Dark Orpheus

    Ah, I work in a bookstore too — I *get* that sense of satisfaction and pride when you figure out from those vague clues the book title the customer wants.

    But then there will always be the sort that comes in with the killer: “I’m looking for a book. I don’t remember the author or what it’s about. But it’s white. With pictures on the cover.”



  3. The Joe

    Here’s one of my favorite types of interactions:

    –Yeah, I’m looking for a book called “Buddha” by Kevin Anderson.

    –Is it by Karen Armstrong?

    — Yeah, that’s the one.

    C’mon! I just did one better than reading your mind, and you didn’t even acknowledge it.

    It’s worse though, when they disagree with you. I seriously had a woman a few years ago that asked for The Kite Walker, and insisted the Kite Runner was not the correct book. She told me we should probably have it in stock, it’s a bestseller, ya know.


  4. Michael Walsh

    It’s worse when you know what the obscure is(usually due to other customers wanting the same book, but with more info) so the next time the same customer comes in they have every expectation that you’ll be able to find the “New book with a blue cover”.


Comments are closed.