The Service Excellence Initiative: A New Approach to Customer Service
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With the pressures of changing technologies and patron expectations the need to stay viable as a service provider is impacting even Academic libraries who have traditionally had a built in patron base. Aware of these changing times Bobst Library completed ClimateQual and found there was a need to improve service outcomes. Attempting to improve customer service twice before with training designed out-of-house and getting little results, Bobst Library’s Access Services began to look for a new way to approach this issue. Deciding that no one knew our staff or services better than we did the Service Excellence Working Group was formed of Access Services Supervisors tasked with designing and executing a Customer Service Initiative. What resulted was a series of activities informed by the service standards of other industries (namely the theories of hospitality outlined in Danny Meyer’s Setting the Table). It was established that our goal would be to create a department that is energized, challenged, and positive about providing good service to patrons and interdepartmentally. We began by clarifying workplace expectations and developing a shared understanding of what it is that we in Access Services are in the business of doing. We then took a many faceted approach to introduce some conversations about service: Staff observed service provision at local eating establishments as well as within Access Services, completed a self assessment related to service provision, and uncovered roadblocks to providing excellent service. All activities involved a written component and discussion at staff meetings to solidify the learning. We have found that by having these activities it has created a space for dialog and improved communication. With all the departments of Access Services participating together it has bridged the distance between separate departments allowing for improved knowledge sharing and workflow. Most importantly it is giving us a new outlook on the role of customer service in libraries.