Northern Lights Library System takes thousands of requests from its member libraries each year. These requests vary from orders for books and supplies to questions about policy and collection development, and everything in between. How are those requests, we call them "tickets," assigned and handled?
The person assigned to answer the phone during the day, this is generally Tracy or Diane, also looks after our ticket queue. They check in on the queue several times a day to ensure nothing critical is waiting. Generally speaking, if something is time sensitive we encourage our members to call so we can get at the problem immediately. If you call we'll enter the ticket on your behalf too.
Most tickets aren't especially time sensitive. These will sit in the queue waiting to be assigned to the right person. That assignment happens every morning. The whole team meets online to review and assign the tickets from the previous day. We've found this process very helpful. We all become quite familiar with who does what. It also gives us a chance to identify who is in the "office" that day, and to discuss any tricky issues that may have arisen since the day before. This meeting generally takes about 10-15 minutes.
Still, sometimes things fall through the cracks. Management's job is to find out where those cracks are and fill them in. Besides our new phone protocol, we just implemented an auto response email. From now on, when you send a message to the helpdesk at email@example.com you'll get an automated response letting you know your message has made it into the system. And if we assign your ticket to someone that doesn't happen to be in the office that day you should get an email like this:
"We have received, reviewed and assigned your ticket. It appears that we may not get to this today. If you believe we've misread the urgency of this ticket and it requires immediate action please call us at 1-800-561-0387."
Finally, managers review their team's tickets regularly to ensure nothing gets forgotten. When you have a few dozen open tickets at various levels of completeness it can get hard to manage all on your own. Some tickets take moments to answer but many represent many hours of work spread over weeks. We are striving for balance between getting all the work done and keeping you up to date on our progress.
There you have it, this is what happens to your phone calls or messages to firstname.lastname@example.org. With 49 libraries competing for attention we sometimes drop a ball. As our team works and practices those errors get fewer and fewer. If we've fumbled your request at some point we are terribly sorry. Let myself or a manager know. We'll use what you tell us to sharpen our skills, keep refining our processes, and improve. Given our thousands of annual tickets i am very impressed with the staff at NLLS. Everyone works hard to ensure you have the support you need to deliver library service in your community. Go team!