Tag Archives: customer service

1 #blogjune

(So I’m going to try this Blog Every Day of June thing. One reason I haven’t done it in the past is the difficulty of coming up with a topic every day, so I’m going to try a bit of free association based on the day of the month in the context of libraries. We’ll see how long I last.)

Today the first thing I think of associated with “one” is my-place-of-work’s “One Library” philosophy. That is, we’re five physical branches, but all one system. The idea of the philosophy is to create consistency. This makes managing the place easier – you only need to come up with one set of rules – and it’s a lot clearer for users. They can use any branch(es) they like and expect the same rules to apply at each one.

Of course one of my mottoes is “It’s Not That Simple”. One size doesn’t fit all – branches do tend to have their unique usergroups, who have different needs. And students get very attached to “their” library branch and want it personalised to their needs. Sometimes it’s as obvious as different term times, so opening hours have to differ. Some disciplines have lots of group work while others need much more individual study space. Many disciplines have collections which can’t quite be boxed into the way the main collection is classified/stored/made available.

There are cultural differences too, and individual differences. Some people right now need to be in a single-story building to feel safe from earthquakes. Some complain the building’s too hot, others complain it’s too cold. Some people are most comfortable talking face-to-face, others much prefer chatting online. Some people need to be shown exactly how to find something, some people need to be allowed to poke at it on their own. The more options we can provide, the more users we can support.

Of course again we have (increasingly) limited time and resources to do this with, so it’s a tradeoff. How many options and how much personalisation can we afford without sacrificing consistency of quality?

Tai tokerau taniwha rau #lianza11 #p10

Cherie Tautolo and Bernd Martin
Tai tokerau taniwha rau: empowering library patrons to achieve

Te Tai Tokerau campus
Sylvia-Ashton Warner Library (located between railway track and intermediate school, next to high school fields) – primarily supports Faculty of Education (three Education degrees offered), 868 students, over 3/4 extramural. 52% are under 30 years old; 48% percent over. 50% Māori, 50% non-Māori. Presentation focuses on on-campus group.

Need to focus on retention/success especially for equity groups including mature students, those from rural, low socioeconomic backgrounds.

Mere’s story

Equity of access in libraries – barriers
Personal, Institutional, Societal (refering to Gorman (2000) p135 – thanks @greengecko29)
Need to think about what we have control over, can improve.

Need a layout that makes ethnic minorities more comfortable. Ghastly painting replaced with tapa cloth. Some may have little experience with libraries/academic libraries. Need to make our purpose and roles clear to patrons. Some patrons have experiences of racism or marginalisation so especially need to be made comfortable. They’ve moved the reference collection to create a more open space. Grouped tables to create discussion area for laptops. Photocopier, laminator, etc in one area. Moving further back in the library gets quieter – self-regulated.

Collection reflects needs of users. Māori readers – project underway to reclassify these (cf RS2 session this afternoon about this). Small reference collection – only core bit left. Short loan collection is open access in same area.
Information literacy workshops – work with student learning people to have tie-in lectures: eg first student learning workshop then library workshop. Try not to be authoritarian, invite input from group where possible to build rapport. Groups can be large, sometimes 20+. Remind that people can come back for followup/one-on-one – helps them to relax if feeling it’s too fast.

Relationships – especially with student but also faculty and support staff. Make the librarians’ role more effective and easier. Personal approach to greeting patrons – learning names – and greeting in Māori when comfortable. Body language especially important! Move away from desk when appropriate. Culturally appropriate acknolwedgement means feeling respected and valued. Taking interest in students as people means better able to serve them. Had a relationship with a student so could ask why they hadn’t seen him – he replied saying everyone seemed to know what they’re doing so he was embarrassed not to. Gave the opportunity to show him around – and 10 minutes later he was showing one of his friends around.

Reciprocity – students aren’t the only beneficiary of relationships. Students gathered outside library one day to sing Happy Birthday to Cherie in English and Māori. Another time presented her with a card to support her in her illness. Received a gift of a kete from a graduating student. Gets offered a ride home when raining. A feed of oysters!

Students feel uncomfortable when lack of Māori students and staff. Need to normalise the presence of Māori students and staff. Eg get classes brought in, student discussion groups.

Silence – some people uncomfortable with silence – feels unwelcoming, cold, formal. Different spaces important – need gathering spaces – noise of discussion can feel more welcoming.

Participation in campus events – because small campus often involved in things that aren’t technically library purview. Reinforces relationships and contributes to campus life. Food plays a big role!

Empowered students achieve.

Q: You have good support from faculty to get library courses embedded – did that take a long time? Course programmes so tight we can’t muscle in.
A: Sometimes have to work on it but mostly they’re good. Mostly the reciprocal thing – goes two ways.

Q: When moving out into campus activities is the library closed? Tension between participating and keeping library open when poorly staff.
A: At powhiri time (before semester starts), everyone’s expected to close and go. Other times would stay open.

Building customer relationships #lianza11 #p07

Lucy Lang and Louise Mercer
Using influence and power to build a good customer relationship
Monday abstracts (pdf)

Power is a tool for good.

Define power
Audience suggestions: Authority, influence, control, imbalance, ability to make a decision
OED’s definition includes effectiveness. Power is also the ability to make power, to empower people.
Short search has words: might, force, authority, potency, energy, motive, philosophical, managerial, political, actuate

Two forms of power: power over (which can be negative, reduces available options) and power to (not related to other people but our own intentions).

When you have power need we retain it, or can we share it?

Discuss customer expectations – audience brainstorm
As a provider:

  • a polite welcome
  • results, efficiency
  • knowledge – reliable information
  • developing relationship
  • empowerment
  • that we listen
  • respect

As a customer:

  • quick and timely service
  • helpful and friendly
  • welcome and listening
  • quality service/product
  • a good experience
  • consistency
  • an appropriate service – appropriate to your needs
  • efficient

Their research
Similar to what we said. Interviewed tertiary librarians (ran out of time to contact wider network.)

Expectations around communication, knowledge, attitude, service provision, service outcomes.

Communication – keep the customer informed even if you don’t know the answer. A quick response can be as useful as a lengthy query. Communicate on an emotional level – understand their situation and emotions. Body language is important here!

Knowledge – If we don’t know the answer find out. Context is important – understand what they need. Know the alternative solutions and pros and cons. Know our own limits – when to keep going and when to refer.

Attitude – Start by assuming that people are reasonable. They want personal connection, to feel like an individual. Someone has to be control – not always us, not always customer, but we need to read situation to decide where the power best sits. Giving up power empowers customer. Stay confident and consistent and let customer know they’re not just a number in a queue.

Service provision – be clear about how long things will take and keep promises. No unnecessary referrals (hard to gauge). Interviews often didn’t realise they’re using strategies to manage eg listening. Be adaptable, cheerful, consistent, honest. Many customers think we’re their only option – may become more needy, difficult, formal, guarded, have low expectations. We need to understand they’re relying on us.

Service outcome – Not just the solution but relationship building – trust and rapport. Need to help customers help themselves. Not just about whether they get what they want. True outcome is about how we got there. People remember how they feel more than whether they got what they needed.

What’s in the literature?
Tucker (2010): library needs to balance needs of one against all users.
Brewer (1995): empower frontline staff as representatives of library. Invest in training.

Product vs service – products can be machine-made; when provided a service people come away with a memory.

Beyond the library sector
Four strategies for influencing customers:

  • Assume leadership role
  • Humanise relationship
  • Advertise expertise
  • Unlock information vault – control of info is source of power

Minimise inequalities in the relationship.

What influences customers? It’s what they see and especially what they feel. A single interaction can influence how they view your organisation. Look at what they experience. What messages are they getting? How services are provided can be more important than the outcome. End result is still important, but good emotional response is vital.

Practical tips

  • Listen – simple but key. Hear what people mean not just what they say
  • Create a connection
  • Keep your promises


Q: Cf Auckland work on customer experience
A: Yes, want to look into that, just haven’t gone past tertiary yet. Asked librarians about their expectations as providers and then as customers – interesting to see differences even when it’s the same person thinking in different roles.

Links of interest 21/1/2011

Library instruction
I’ve recently been pondering the idea of database searches as an experiment – hypothesis, experiment, evaluate, modify the hypothesis and try again. This might make a useful way to introduce sci/tech students in particular to the idea that you’re not going to necessarily get your best results from your first search; I’ll have to see how they receive it when I’ve actually got a class to test it on.

Incorporating Failure Into Library Instruction (from ACRLog) discusses the pedagogy of learning by failure and talks about times when it’s more or less suitable for library instruction.

Anne Pemberton’s super-awesome paper From friending to research: Using Facebook as a teaching tool (January 2011, College & Research Libraries News, vol. 72 no. 1 28-30) discusses Facebook as a useful teaching metaphor for databases.

Don’t Make It Easy For Them (from ACRLog) – with caveats in the comments that I think are at least as important as the main post.

Heads they win, tales we lose: Discovery tools will never deliver on their promise – and don’t miss the comment thread at the bottom of the page, which segues into the dilemma of increasingly expensive journal bundles and possible (vs viable) solutions.

Research data
There’s a whole D-Lib Magazine issue devoted to this topic this month.

Web services
The Web Is a Customer Service Medium discusses the idea that “the fundamental question of the web” is “Why wasn’t I consulted?” – that is, each medium has its niche of what it’s good at and why people use it, and webpages need to consider how to answer this question.

Library Day in the Life
Round 6 begins next week, in which librarians from all walks of librarianship share a day (or week) in the life.

Links of interest 14/12/09

A library in a telephone booth

Fix Your Terrible, Insecure Passwords in Five Minutes” talks about some common mistakes in creating passwords and suggests techniques for more secure ones.

Customer service
Zabel, D. and L. J. Pellack (2009) First impressions and rethinking restroom questions, RUSQ 49(1) has garnered a number of thoughtful comments, as well as reactions in the biblioblogosphere including:

Via someone I forget, who pointed out that this works perfectly if you replace the word “computer” with “library/catalogue/database/etc”: How to help someone use a computer.

Information literacy
Karen Schneider recommends and discusses the Project Information Literacy report Lessons Learned: How college students find information in the digital age (PDF, 3MB).

Digital natives, scholarly immigrants on the ACRL blog discusses some of the findings of the Journal of Higher Education article University students’ perceptions of plagiarism.

Links of interest 25/9/09

LibLime, an organisation which sells support to the New Zealand-developed open-source library system Koha, has recently announced changes to their practices that are technically legal but many feel don’t abide by the spirit of the open-source license. Library Journal has a basic summary of events with links to key discussions.

A libarian gets a marriage proposal on Ask a Librarian.

Customer service
Being at the point of need discusses placing screencasts, chat widgets, and other tutorials in the catalogue, subject guides, and databases.

Chalk notes as a valid communication format is a library manager’s blogpost about her response to chalk-on-pavement comments about the library. Her follow-up on chalk notes addresses the issue of communication within the library about public responses like this.

Tracking ILL Requests is a “wouldn’t it be neat if” post about providing more information on ILL requests to users.

The APA has an APA Style Blog with all sorts of handy tips.

10 free Google Custom Search Engines for librarians

5 sites with free video lectures from top colleges

Links of interest 5/5/09

“Links of interest” is an irregular series of posts I started making recently to MPOW’s internal blog, based on items culled from FriendFeed, Twitter, and Google Reader. I started thinking it was a shame not to have it available publicly, so here it is. NB Dates on future posts will be in dd/mm/yy format….

Lessons from the library booth at a local festival: or how not to engage customers

A blog post on New Citation Rules in the 7th Edition of the MLA Handbook.

Merck makes phony peer-review journal to promote a drug, published by Elsevier.

Google Maps adds historical maps of Japan which turn out to accidentally facilitate discrimination.

UCOL tweets that: “UCOL Library now has over 20 wireless laptops students can use anywhere on campus. You can borrow a laptop for up to 3 hours.”

National Library explains Twitter – they compare it to Personal Items columns in early 20th century newspapers, describe the feedback and interaction they’ve had for their account, and talk about how they do it.