When customers on your website need help or service, what options do they have to reach you? Most library websites (maybe yours) offer two choices: to call on the phone or send an email. In this post, I want to share four reasons why email, while necessary, isn’t sufficient for online customer service.
1. It’s slow.
How quickly does your library to reply to customer emails on average? The answer I hear most often is 24-48 hours. That’s a long time, especially when you consider that many customer emails have to do with basic questions that are best handled immediately, such as questions about the patron’s account, library policies, catalog search, and help with downloadable media platforms. Responding to these basic usage-related questions immediately facilitates greater use of library materials and resources. So why ask customers to wait a day or two for help?
2. It gives the customer a chance to walk away.
The old maxim, “If you don’t take care of your customer, someone else will,” is true in spades for libraries. The most common “someone else” libraries compete with is the apps on their customers’ phones, which are just a tap away at all times. By asking online customers to wait a day or more to hear from you, you’re giving them a chance to find their media and information somewhere else, when they would happily get it from you if they could (and drive up your circulation statistics in the process). To attract and retain users, you need to be able to respond to customers at the moment they’re asking for help – wherever they are, whenever they need it – and email just isn’t equal to the task. Why give customers a chance to buy it from Amazon when they could borrow it from the library?
3. It tells customers they’ll be served on your terms, not theirs.
The expression, “The medium is the message,” is very relevant when it comes to online customer service. The contact options you offer customers tell them something about where they fit into your priorities and set a mental expectation about how easy (or difficult) it will be to use the library. By itself, email tells the customer, “We’ll respond to you when we have an opportunity,” while chat says, “We’re here for you now!” Which message do you want to characterize your library?
4. There’s a better option.
If email isn’t enough by itself, what options do you have to enhance your customer service presence online? One solution you should consider is live chat from Unique Integrated Communications. Our friendly and highly-skilled library specialists are available over 100 hours per week to serve online customers. All packages include unlimited chat for one low monthly rate (based on annual circulation) and no annual contract, so there’s no reason not to give it a try. Chat or message us on our website or sign up for a free webinar to learn more.