May I Vent?
If I go to one more library’s website that doesn’t include the director’s name, I am going to SCREAM.
I get it. I feel the same way. I don’t think it’s great customer service to not include that information, or “hide” it somewhere: Is it under “About the Library”? or “Contact Us”? or somewhere else? And when you do find it, there is often no phone number or email address (as Nancy Dowd “vents” in The M Word). Nancy goes on to bemoan the lack of contact information for media contact and marketing staff. Granted, small libraries may not have people dedicated to these areas, but she makes the point that someone should be designated, and their contact information given.
The focus of The M Word is marketing, so it makes sense that media and marketing are mentioned. For me, it goes even further. I want to know WHO (or at least what phone number or email address) to contact for WHAT: Reference question? Problem with a hold, or overdue item? What time is this program? What title is the book discussion group reading? Yes, some of these questions can be answered by whoever answers the phone, at the library’s “main” number (and yes, many libraries have only one phone number.) But that’s not always the case. Presenting the caller with a recording to “press 1 if. . .” or “if you know your party’s extension. . .” are not the most welcoming way to greet the people you are serving. (And how can they know the extension, if you never tell them?) And yes, I’ve now gone from venting about the website, to venting about the phone system. That’s how venting works. [smile]
When I talk to library staff about customer service, one of the pieces of advice I share is to “think like a customer.” When you call a business or visit their web page, how does it make you feel when you have to dig for the information you want? I think some libraries are making their customers work too hard to contact them. And I think I know why, in some cases. I know that some library directors are concerned about their privacy and that of their staff members, and I don’t mean to minimize that, but I do think we have to balance that concern with our need to provide the best possible service to our customers. What is that perfect balance? I don’t think there’s one perfect answer—every library administrator has to answer that for their library. But I’d like to see libraries err on the side of making things easier for customers. After all, that’s why we’re here, right?