The last day of BEA was called BookCon because they sold one day passes to readers to come in and get free autographed books from authors. Here’s the biggest problem I saw with this.
- Readers were limited to a small section of BEA.
- Not all publishers were included because of where they were located in the convention hall.
- Readers were subjected to long lines and the wait times often exceeded an hour.
- BEA closed early, at 3 p.m., which gave the readers even less time to look around and get things.
While the readers I talked to were excited to receive the books they did, they were disgruntled and angry to have to miss a lot of what they expected to see, do and go home with. Many had to pick and choose carefully because getting one book might cost them missing out on a couple more favorites. There’s got to be a better way, BEA, so please, look at what worked and what didn’t and plan accordingly for next year.
On the subject of booths. I try to visit them all and being there three days, I do a pretty good job. Talking to people who work the booths is very eye opening. On the first day, there is much enthusiasm and lots of people. By the last day, the wear and tear is clearly showing.
I stopped by the “big name” publishers on the final day with questions I wasn’t able to get answered sooner. What I encountered was sad. It was like they were calling it in. I don’t know if it’s the lack of training the staff, tiredness, boredom or just plain not liking what you’re doing. Here’s what I encountered.
- Staff too busy talking among themselves to be bothered by customers with questions (discussions overheard were of the personal variety).
- Lots of playing with cell phone including checking email, texting and just playing games.
- Standing at the booth and just staring into space.
- Sitting at tables and looking bored.
These pictures of just two examples of what I saw at many booths. They are not the only offenders.
I went up to each counter to ask a question and no one approached me, talked to me or asked if I needed help. After several tries, I finally said to two young women, “Do you work here?” and when one looked up from her phone she said, “Yes.” Then I asked her if she got paid for it. She looked surprised but still didn’t ask if I needed help. Finally, I just asked my question and she pointed me in another direction.
Let me tell you, if I were a reader who was there for the day and wanted to buy books or find out about authors or products, these publishers would be off my list. And, if I were a person interested in doing business with one of these companies, I would question their judgment in the staff they hire.
Maybe my vision of customer service is skewed by the years I worked for Disney, but to me, it’s common sense that should always overrule everything. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that when you are working a public event for a company, you are the face of that company. What does it take to smile and greet someone? How hard is it to say, “May I help you?”
My only thought is that employees are told what day to show up and that physically being there is their only job. Just a thought, why not offer some customer relations training? How about matching the person to the job? Sorry, on any other day I think the world of you, but the last day left a bad taste in my mouth.
I should give kudos to those who always seemed to be open, welcoming and smiling to passersby in my observations.
- Dreamspinner Press
Bottom Line: Training takes a little time, but goes a long way.