Customer Service - Issue 8

Customer Service - Issue 8

Posted on Monday December 14, 2009 at 02:23PM

Do your library users know as much as you think they do?

While I’m settling into the role of Public Services Consultant, The Weekly Blurb comes out of what has happened during the week. This week, a certain theme seemed to be developing as I went to meetings, talked to co-workers, and listened to presentations. That theme was educating the library user and how this must be an active endeavor, rather than an assumption that people will automatically know how the library catalogue works.
The first instance came up when our processor, Diane, was relating how she was requesting something through the library catalogue online. A friend of hers was with her and commented that although she had a library card, she had no idea that she could request items online. I confess, I was somewhat shocked by this. How could someone have a library card and NOT know about the online catalogue?
This theme continued to pop up, in relation to marketing, customer service, and accessing the TRAC Pac. The truth of the matter is that our patrons often do not know as much as we think they do. So how do we get the message across to them that their library card can offer them so much?
One method is word-of-mouth. When patrons are checking materials out, a simple question about whether they are aware of the online catalogue is not just marketing – it’s good customer service! It doesn’t take much effort and the effect could be a huge boost in your circulation statistics. We want people to know about all the great stuff we have available to them! After all, few shop owners would not want their customers to be aware that what’s in front of the store is only a fraction of what is available in the back. 
Another method is signage. This is often far less effective than word-of-mouth. People can easily ignore signs, and if they are thinking of something else at the time, the written word may not even penetrate.    Brochures may be equally ineffective. If I’m not even aware of the existence of something, why would I want to read a brochure about it? But if you combine word-of-mouth with brochures, not only will the patron be made aware of the online catalogue, but will also have something to take home with them so they can place holds on their own.
While we may think that this sort of promotion is only for new library users, think for a minute about your long-term patrons. If they’re asking you to place holds for them all the time, why not ask if they have the time for you to show them how they can do this on their own? At first this may take a bit of time, but it will cut down on the time you spent placing holds for them.
As Mircea says, our primary focus is our patrons. In making them aware of what is available to them, we provide good customer service. And that makes everybody happy.

Author: Northern Lights Library System


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