** Note: If you didn’t receive this in its more attractive email format earlier today, please email Traci at avett@tblc.org .


March Madness Month

A month of surprising facts, informative highlights, and fun activities… all for the chance to brag about our incredible services!

AaL Day 2011, Hodges University

And the Winners are…

In Issue 11 of the March Madness Month series, we challenged you to take our Customer Service Question 3 Quiz – to tell us which option you’d choose in the below scenario and why.  This scenario deals with how your active participation during your shifts is so crucial for the success of Ask a Librarian, to ensure that staff are not overwhelmed on the desk and that statewide users receive the help they need.

To refresh your memory, here is the original question and the 3 possible responses:

You are scheduled to cover the statewide desk. During your shift, you preview a question that you are not sure how to answer; however, no one else is picking them up. Several others are on the desk. What do you do?

1.   Continue to research the question; maybe you’ll find eventually find the answer and be able to pick them up.

2.   Just let it be – others are on the desk, so surely someone else out there could be more helpful than you at this point.

 3.   Pick up the question. Let the user know that you aren’t quite familiar with that topic, but you will definitely see what you can find.

So which one would you choose?  Let’s preface this a bit by saying that if you’ve ever experienced a tiny moment of panic when previewing a user’s question, you’re weird. Just joking… seriously, all that really means is you’re human, like most of us on the desk. We all have areas of strength and those other (shh) areas, and that’s perfectly okay. In fact, we think it’s great. Remember that it’s not your all-consuming knowledge of every topic under the sun that makes you great at what you do. You definitely don’t want to leave someone waiting indefinitely because you’re unsure of your steps. Just pick them up and do the best you can! Use the Agent Room for reference stumpers, or the AskRef listserv. Remember that not every user needs that information pronto – always keep in mind the possibility of following-up by email so you can consult with your peers. We are all in the same exciting boat, and you are in the company of others who can help – those who participate in Ask a Librarian make up an incredible professional peer network, so you are quite literally never alone.

And the Winning Responses are…

Jane DeBellis, Santa Rosa County Library System

“In the scenario given, I would select number 3.  If the question is difficult or tricky for a trained professional imagine what it seems like to the customer who had the guts to ask the question in the first place.  Oftentimes the question is not difficult as it first seems but needs to be clarified and broken apart to make it manageable both for yourself and the customer.  Only by taking the question and beginning the reference interview can you really assist the customer in meaningful manner. Option number 2 only gives AaL a bad reputation. Option number 1 allows you to learn something and perhaps hone your own skills but again does nothing to assist the customer unless you eventually pick-up the question. In option number 3 you assist the customer while at the same time learning something yourself about where information is available to help with the question in the future.”

Angela M. Falsey, Sarasota County Library System

“The answer of course is option 3. We are librarians–we are not supposed to know all the answers, but we are supposed to be able to figure out how to find the answers. Chatting with the patron will yield more detail and help you focus on what they really need–researching before picking up is a waste of time. And sometimes you know more than you think you do–maybe the patron just needs help choosing the right search terms. There’s no point in staffing the desk if you’re not going to pick up questions!”

Laura A.B. Cifelli, Lee County Library System

“I would pick up the question so the patron is served.  If the patron has been waiting, she (for the ease of answering this question, let’s assign gender) may be getting frustrated and I want her to know I’m here to help.  The reference interview is meant to clarify the question so what is typed may not exactly be what is needed.  As we work together, I may become more sure of myself or the patron may provide me with enough information that I know what direction to go in.  I can also establish a timeline.  The patron may not need the information during our session but the information I gather and the contact we make will allow me to do this question as a followup and email her later when I can do more research.  If I just let the question sit in queue, no one is served.  By tackling it, we all have a good experience.”

Congratulations to our winners!!!

We are truly proud of your incredible insight and standards for customer service. You make your library systems and us look great!