Random thoughts on customer service

A couple of recent customer service experiences has gotten me thinking about customer service at work. All of us in the library profession are in customer service in some way. Our records can be perfect, our shelves neat and organised, but the point of our service is connecting people with information. The rest is a means to that end. So what’s on my extremely non-comprehensive list?

  • Even if you don’t know the answer, a smile always helps

This was something one of my staff said yesterday, and I think it’s true. I tried to enrol in my course for semester 2 yesterday, but the new Student Information System wasn’t loading course data correctly. The person that I spoke to was bright, cheerful and as helpful as she could be. Which wasn’t a lot. But I didn’t have to wait long, and I I was happy to let them follow it up and get back to me.

  • Don’t make assumptions

I had to log a job with our ICT people about 12 months ago. They are as helpful and competent group of people as you would wish to find. But one guy I called left me incandescent with rage at the end of my phone call. The issue was that our student PCs weren’t accessing the internet, but staff ones were OK. At the time I was also on Amazon ordering something for our collection.

Me: Yes, our staff PCs can access the internet OK. I’m on Amazon at the moment and everything is fine.

Him <raised voice>: You’re not supposed to be browsing Amazon! <Heavy sigh> You’re supposed to use your PC for work purposes only.

Me <terse voice>: Um, I’m a librarian. Buying books is part of my frickin’ job description.

Him: Yes, but you’re supposed to order them from Australian sites.


  • The answer should be as simple as possible

My wife calls me Explanation Man because, apparently, my answers are a little longer than they need to be. Knowing where to find lots of useful information is great. Knowing what the right information for your patron is just as important.

  • Make sure that you’re right

Your information should solve a problem, not create a new one. I recently went to another campus to collect some boxes of books to transfer to our collection. I found my way out of the carpark and up to the library. One of the staff there is a really lovely guy, but on this occasion,his ‘help’ getting me and the trolley to the carpark was worse than the route that I’d discovered for myself. The fact that I was able to catch up with him for a bit longer made up for it 🙂

  • Don’t look too busy at the cirulation desk

There’s always the need to get stuff done, and staff take work out to the desk to do when it’s quiet. Sometimes, its possible to look so busy that people are afraid to approach you for fear of interrupting you. On the other hand, it’s not good looking like you’ve got nothing to do. It can be a difficult balancing act. Of course, I’ve never missed someone standing in front of me wanting to ask me something. No, not at all….

I’ve noticed on Twitter over the last couple of days that there seems to have been more people suffering from caffeine deprivation. As a result, tToday I’ve also discovered a new goal for myself:


One thought on “Random thoughts on customer service

  1. Pingback: The Daily News: 25 June 2011 | Finding Heroes

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