Posts tagged under: Library Management

Happy Customer Service Week: Hitting the mark

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What’s the best customer service you’ve ever helped provide?

The first week of October is Customer Service Week, an international celebration of the importance of customer service and of the people who serve and support customers on a daily basis. Librarians understand customer service as well as anyone. They wear their customer service hats every day in addition to all of the others they wear. So to celebrate Customer Service Week, we asked some of the folks at OCLC to share the service they’re most proud of having provided.

It was a hard question to get answers to because, like most good support staff, they want every interaction to be the best from the customer’s standpoint. But I think it’s important to share the stories we’re proud of. They inspire us to do more every day in hopes of hitting that mark again and again.

I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I do. If you have any suggestions or ideas for how your experience as an OCLC member could be improved, please don’t hesitate to email me directly at bordasd@oclc.org.

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Happy Customer Service Week: Wow Moments!

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What’s the best customer service you’ve ever received?

At OCLC, the goal of our customer service team—and all of our staff—is to support libraries better than anyone in the world. One way we do this is by focusing on “Wow!” support moments. Not every support interaction is going to be a “Wow!” moment, but when you have one, you remember it for a long time. We know that many librarians wear the “Customer Service Representative” hat in addition to all the others they wear, and that it’s a challenging and rewarding role. So to celebrate Customer Service Week here at OCLC, we thought it would be fun to ask our own staff around the world for their “Wow!” moments on the receiving end of customer service.

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Celebrating the first 500 WMS libraries

Andrew K. Pace

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A decade of remarkable change

In 2006, four library system vendors dominated the integrated library system market. OCLC partnered with most and was just beginning to consider its own solution. In the intervening decade, we’ve seen a lot of consolidation and rapid innovation.

Fast-forward to 2016. The ILS is now a legacy system, “next-gen” is practically passé, and Marshall Breeding has dubbed a new breed of library management and discovery services the “Library Service Platform.” Today, OCLC’s WorldShare Management Services (WMS) is one of only two offerings in this space—a true multi-tenant, cloud-based suite of services for managing and discovering the purchased and licensed collections of libraries. It took only five years for OCLC to attract 500 libraries to WMS, becoming a leading provider in a space that it didn’t even occupy a decade ago.

That would be a major achievement in any industry, by any company. That it was achieved by a nonprofit library cooperative is credit to the unique power behind that success—our members.

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The needs of one

2016-07-05 DisneyAt ALA in Orlando, we heard a great talk from Amy Rossi from the Disney Institute about Disney’s approach to customer service. I’m glad we’ve had a chance to share some notes from her presentation and some thoughts from a few of the librarians who attended. I’d like, though, to take one final look at some of the insights she shared, this time from the point of view of customer service here at OCLC. As head of our customer operations team, it’s not just a subject that I find fascinating, it’s also my passion and my responsibility.

Star Trek’s Mr. Spock famously tells us that, “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few,” or, as interjected by Captain Kirk, “the one.” That may hold true philosophically, but not when it comes to customer service. While new products or features may be developed to meet the needs of the many, service questions and concerns are almost always about the needs of “the one.” And that’s where we get into the SPOC Paradox.

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The touchpoints of exceptional customer service

2016-07-05 DisneyDuring the OCLC Symposium at ALA Annual this year, we got the opportunity to hear from Disney Institute’s Amy Rossi. Amy talked about how Disney seeks to understand the complete customer experience and “overmanage” the details that contribute to it. You can find a longer summary of the event in my previous post.

During the event, Amy gave us some time to think about and share the touchpoints that visitors to the library (virtual or in person) encounter and what kind of experience they’re likely to have. At my table, we talked mostly about library signage—how do we give people all the information they’ll need without crowding the entrance way with signs? Other people shared concerns about parking lots, the staff members who sit closest to the front door, how users click through the library’s website and many other touchpoints.

We caught a few attendees after the event to capture their immediate thoughts on how Amy’s presentation relates specifically to libraries. Here’s what they had to share.

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What Disney taught us about great service

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ALA Annual is always a great place to learn and meet people. As the Vice President of Management and Customer Operations at OCLC, I found that one of the highlights of this year’s conference was the OCLC Symposium on how to deliver a great customer experience. Now, if you’re like me, when you think about Disney’s magic you don’t think about parking lots or birds in the Enchanted Tiki Room that look like they’re actually breathing. But it’s exactly those types of details that make the Disney experience so complete, compelling and successful.

Amy Rossi from the Disney Institute—who admitted that she once moved to a new city and got a library card before a new driver’s license—talked to us about how Disney manages its customer experience. She started out by making the great point that Disney and libraries are really in the same industry: the service industry. To Disney, entertainment and hospitality are side effects of great service. Likewise, people come to libraries for a lot of different reasons, but all libraries provide service.

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The Collective Perspective

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Collective collection has become part of the librarian argot. Coined by our colleague, Lorcan Dempsey, the term emerged from OCLC Research’s work analyzing library collections at scales above the institutional level—group, consortial, regional, national, and even global.

The best way of understanding collective collections is to start with WorldCat, which is a global registry of library holdings. Taken together, these holdings document the sum total of materials available in library collections worldwide—or at least a close approximation. In this sense, WorldCat represents the collective collection of the global library system as a whole.

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Time travelling ILL

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The Twilight Reference Zone

Picture if you will an American public library. Any library will do. A smartly dressed, clean-shaven man in his mid-40s approaches the reference desk.

“Can I help you find something?” asks the librarian.

“Yes,” says the man, “I’m looking for a copy of Bats and Bones, a Frannie Shoemaker Campground Mystery.”

“Let me see if I can find that for you,” says the young woman behind the desk as she checks FirstSearch.

“Just one thing, please,” asks the man as he waits. “I’m looking for a specific edition.”

Scrolling past titles, the librarian says, “Oh?” without looking up.

“Yes,” says the man. “I’m looking for the edition that will be published in the year 2102.”

[Cue creepy music.]

This library has entered…the Twilight Reference Zone.

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Here comes the sun

Jeff Jacobs

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Certain things are wonderful because they are unique. Artwork, musical performances, memories, the important people in our lives. In these cases, we treasure differences.

That is not true, however, for software development. While a service or a feature may perform a very specialized task, the background infrastructure isn’t helped by inconsistencies. Every time you add a different piece of hardware, operating system, software platform or process, you multiply the number of ways you’ll need to maintain your code, impacting quality and driving costs up.

In the technology realm, these inconsistencies are referred to as “snowflakes.” I like to refer to the process of eliminating these inconsistencies as melting snowflakes. Because, just like in real life, snowflakes may be interesting, but they’re not great for software development—they often make you slow down or slip up when you want to move quickly.

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#LibrariesInLife: The Convenience Imperative

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Technology has turned learning outside in

We used to bring all our learning, content and media resources to various “watering holes” where folks would gather to consume it. Classrooms, libraries, newspapers, magazines, TV networks, bookstores and record stores. Why? Because it was the fastest way to distribute a wide variety of materials. It wasn’t wrong. It made sense. But it also left us with embedded cultural and institutional ideas and biases about what learning is, who is involved in our workflows, what counts as “good enough” and even why we learn.

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