Delivering Great Customer Service For Libraries | Webinar

Delivering Great Customer Service For Libraries | Webinar

Rob Klaus and Melissa Fenton from Unique discusses the challenges of delivering great customer service, including staffing issues. They explain that providing great service requires effort and focus over time.

  • Providing great customer service is tough and requires effort to maintain over time.
  • Staffing is a challenge for many organizations trying to provide great service.

Watch the full webinar

Overview of Unique’s Service

  • Patrons communicate with libraries for a broad range of things, from general information to deep subject matter reference questions.
  • Unique handles calls and chat 7 days a week from 8 A.M to 11 pm Eastern Time Monday through Friday.

Types of Interactions Handled by Unique

Unique’s can handle about 90% of customer service interactions.

  • Deep subject matter reference questions are not what they do.
  • E-media assistance support can sometimes be very involved and time-consuming but is covered under their umbrella.

Importance of Meeting Customers Where They Are

Unique meets customers where they are. Web chat is increasingly becoming a customer service channel and the importance of having both mobile phone and desktop-enabled chat services is key.

Unique’s Experience Handling Customer Service Interactions

Last year, Unique handled almost half a million customer service interactions for public libraries through phone calls or chat. Because of the volume of interactions they handle, Unique has had to develop many tools and practices that could be helpful to other libraries.

Chat from Unique Management Services

Libraries face challenges in handling interactions with patrons and Unique Management Services can help by offering a supplement to existing staff, extending hours and channels of service, and providing consistent service.

Challenges Libraries Face

Handling interactions with patrons can be challenging, especially when it comes to chat. Staffing is also a challenge for many libraries, which puts pressure on remaining staff to deliver services. Inconsistent policies and procedures make it difficult to provide consistent service.

Benefits of Using Unique Management Services

Unique offers a supplement to existing staff that brings awesome support to the team inside the library and allows for more flexibility in redeploying staff throughout the organization while still serving patrons who are not in the library. Unique also extends hours and channels of service for customers to get help with what they need.

Introduction to Unique’s Customer Service

In this section, Rob and Melissa introduce Unique’s customer service and explain how they work with libraries to provide top-tier service.

Implementation Process

The implementation process is a team approach between Unique and the library. Details are gathered through questionnaires, policy manuals, website details, etc. to ensure that agents have all necessary information to provide excellent service.

For call handling sites, forwarding numbers are provided as needed. For chat sites, a widget is designed and installed across the website. The handbook is created as a knowledge-based tool used by agents to answer customer questions. Libraries have access prior to launch date and ongoing access thereafter.

Handbook, Help Desk, and Client Portal


The handbook contains details regarding meeting rooms, study rooms, etc., including transfer guidance. It is designed for easy searching using keywords.

Help Desk

The help desk is an internal tool that helps Unique agents assist patrons with various e-media platforms, and it allows for troubleshooting by platform and device type.

Client Portal

The client portal provides transparent access to phone recordings and chat transcripts. Each call or chat has a call card containing details specific to that interaction. Call cards have call recordings that can be reviewed for immediate feedback.

Chat Service

This section covers Unique’s chat service and how it differs from traditional reference-based chat services.

Chat Implementation

Unique’s agents have access to the ILS so they can address higher-level customer service interactions outside of things like hours. During implementation, Unique works with libraries to understand branding and desired widget design. Widget designs are approved by libraries prior to any launch of service.

Chat Features

Agents can assist with account issues during chats. Widgets can incorporate both English and Spanish.

Introduction to Online Communications

In this section, Melissa introduces the online communication service offered by Unique and assures that all chats are handled by live agents. She also highlights the importance of transparency in their business.

Key Points:

  • All chats are handled by live agents with no bot interactions.
  • Auto-translate is embedded into the process to allow seamless communication with patrons who prefer using their language of origin.
  • Unique prioritizes transparency as a core value of their business and provides complete access to the client portal, monthly reports, and support for any questions regarding the service.

Training and QA Tips

In this section, Rob discusses some training and quality assurance tips that Unique has learned over the years. He emphasizes the importance of continuous training and refreshers for staff members.

Key Points:

  • Unique uses Talent LMS to build training programs and provide resources for staff.
  • Staff members are trained on specific ways to respond to customer questions and requests that drive positive interactions.
  • Power words are taught to staff members through coaching, role-playing exercises, and everyday interactions with patrons.
  • A process is in place for renewing items when a patron calls in. Instead of asking for the barcode or card number, staff members follow a specific process to renew items.

Training Components and Quality Assurance

This section discusses the different components of an interaction and how to ensure that necessary actions are taken. It also covers the importance of asking clarifying questions, offering additional assistance, and dealing with angry patrons.

Key Points

  • Staff should ask clarifying questions to understand the actual need of the caller.
  • Knowing escalation paths and resources is important when dealing with angry patrons.

Assurance Process

This section discusses the quality assurance process at Unique, which is used to continually improve service. The proactive quality assurance team listens to or reviews between 15 and 30 interactions per team member per month. Interactions are measured using a defined scorecard that includes call flow, customer care, and procedure role.

Proactive QA

  • Feedback from libraries about specific interactions is reviewed by the supervisory and QA team.
  • Interactions are measured using a defined scorecard that includes call flow, customer care, and procedure role.

Defined Scorecard

  • The defined scorecard is broken into three central components: call flow, customer care, and procedure role.
  • Call flow measures elements such as whether the greeting was clear and correct or if additional assistance was offered at the end of the interaction.
  • Procedure role measures whether privacy policies were followed strictly or if accurate answers were given to policy questions.

Patron Feedback

This section discusses how patrons can provide feedback after each chat interaction. It’s rewarding to see how many people provide feedback, which can be useful for improving service.

Patron Feedback

  • Patrons have the ability to provide a score and comment after each chat interaction.
  • Reading feedback is rewarding and can be useful for improving service.

Reviewing Procedures and Policies

The speaker encourages the audience to make reviewing procedures and policies an ongoing process, no less than annually. They suggest breaking up the policy manual into different files or components to make it more accessible to staff.