Customer Service

The Auburn Public Library requires staff members to provide excellent customer service to the public and to co-workers. The same quality service is provided to all customers regardless of age, race, nationality, socio-economic and educational background, physical condition, etc. The Library’s Long-Range Plan is built on this commitment to provide excellent customer service by 1) revising policies to value and support customer service efforts, 2) creating staff customer service training, 3) establishing plans for promoting library/customer communication, and 4) developing ways of measuring customer satisfaction.

Standards for Appropriate Customer Service

1. Basic requirements. All staff members are required to provide friendly, prompt, and helpful service to customers and to each other. Employees are respectful and sensitive to circumstances, differences and diversity.

2. Nametags.  All staff members wear nametags. Staff members can select among the following nametag options:

Style: Magnetic or Lanyard (woven cotton that goes around the neck)

Text: “Auburn Public Library/First name” or “Auburn Public Library/Department”

3. Telephone calls. Telephone calls are answered promptly. There are three parts to answering an incoming call:

  • Greeting
  • Name
  • Department or title (not necessary for intercom calls)

For example, “Good morning, this is [staff member’s name] in Administration.” or “Good morning this is Administration, [staff member’s name] speaking.”

4. Appearance. Staff members will project a positive and professional public image of the Library, which conveys the confidence and pride the Library takes in serving the community and its high standards for providing effective and efficient public service. To foster a positive and professional public image and attitude, staff members will wear neat, clean and well-maintained attire that is appropriate for the type of work they do. Shoes are required and must be well-maintained. Good grooming and personal hygiene are required.

5. Doing other work at a service desk. When a customer is not present, work-related tasks are done that are conducive to frequent interruption.  Examples are reading professional literature, planning programs, selecting books, updating databases, and creating displays. Employees may do work that takes them away from the service desk for short periods of time but will remain within eyesight/earshot of the desk.

Staff members present in a service area, whether they are currently scheduled to work in that area or not, will make themselves available to assist other staff members in serving customers.

6. Food and Beverages. Staff members working at public service desks may drink and eat light snacks discretely. They do not chew gum.  Food and drink are kept out of the public’s view.  Examples of light snacks are a piece of candy or a couple of crackers.

7. Personal Calls and E-Mails.  Personal phone calls (and e-mails) that are taken at a service desk are kept at a minimum and brief.

8. Circulating.  When public service desk staff members are not busy assisting customers, they periodically walk around areas within view or earshot of the service point to offer assistance to customers.

9. Library Equipment.  Employees working at public service desks are expected to provide assistance with equipment such as computers and photocopy machines. The extent of service is provided according to guidelines established in the Library’s Use of Library Computers Policy and its Copyright Policy.

10. Lines at Service Points.  Effective strategies are used when more than one person is waiting for service. These vary according to circumstances and the personnel at the desk. In all cases, each customer awaiting service is politely acknowledged. Multitasking (helping more than one person at a time) can be done as appropriate or possible. For example, books can be checked out for one customer while another is filling out a registration form.

If more than three customers are in line, staff member requests help from co-workers and/or co-workers readily volunteer to assist.

11. Phone and In-Person Transactions.  Requests for service from customers who are present and those who are calling by phone are treated differently depending upon the transaction. Customer’s present take first priority. Staff will use their judgment when answering and dealing with telephone transactions. Callers placed on hold will be left on hold no longer than approximately 30 seconds before the staff member takes their name and number and returns their call within fifteen minutes.

Circulation Transactions: Customer’s present take priority. When the telephone rings, a staff member politely excuses him/herself to answer it.  The caller is given the option to hold or to have a call back.  If the caller prefers to wait on hold, he/she is told approximately how long to expect to wait.

Reference Transactions (children or adults): If service desk staff is engaged with assisting a customer, they do not answer the phone, but instead allow the answering machine to pick up. Service desk staff check for messages frequently during each hour and return calls immediately. If a phone or in-person request can not be immediately be satisfied, the customer is offered a call back, which is made within one day. Referrals are acceptable responses when appropriate.

12. Materials Not Owned by APL.  Materials not owned by APL are requested for customers through routine channels. Customers not wanting to wait for materials can be referred to commercial sources or outlets.

13. Referrals to Service Points.  If a customer approaches a service desk with a need or question that is not typically handled at that desk, the customer is directed to the appropriate service point or personally escorted to it. A customer with complex questions or needs is escorted to an appropriate staff member along with a brief explanation of the customer’s need.  If staffing levels do not permit this, the staff member will call ahead to alert the staff member of the patron and the nature of his/her request.

14. Staff Communication.  Supervisors communicate the importance of customer service and excellence in customer service behavior as an important part of a new employee’s orientation. The Customer Service Policy, located in the employee manual, is highlighted. As time permits, customer service quality discussions are part of staff meetings. Customer service training takes place annually.

15. Dealing with Unacceptable Service.  There are situations when a staff member notes unacceptable customer service behavior to customers or other staff members. On these occasions, the staff member noting the behavior is obligated to address the situation. S/he uses their best judgment in how they do this by speaking directly to the staff member using diplomacy and sensitivity or reporting the behavior to the supervisor.

16. Performance Evaluations. Standards of appropriate customer service behavior outlined in this and other policies are used as criteria in employee evaluations.

17. Recognition Program. Employees will be acknowledged for outstanding customer service when the Library adopts a customer service recognition program and establishes a customer service recognition committee.

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