Author: Cherry-Ann Smart
Special Collections Librarian
University of the West Indies, Mona Campus
Purpose – This paper explores issues surrounding customer service in libraries. It encourages the development of hybrid models for customer service standards based on institutional and local culture, technology, and the involvement of staff and stakeholders.
Design/methodology/approach – Posits that technology in library operations emphasizes the human element which is important for service delivery and good customer relations. Suggests if clear parameters about policies are not established and communicated to both parties prior to administration of service polls, library staff may become disenfranchised by negative results. Further suggests that if this baseline is not first established survey responses may be flawed and caution should be applied when benchmarking. By reviewing the literature and polling professional and para-professional staff of one academic library in Jamaica, the author recommends the creation of hybrid models of customer service standards, especially for developing countries.
Findings – The paper supports libraries’ development of their own hybrid models to improve the customer service encounter.
Research limitations/implications – The paper demonstrates that imbalance in the manager-patron-staff triage as a result of historical, socio-economical, and cultural factors may be a possible barrier to excellent customer service in academic libraries and needs to be further explored.
Practical implications – The paper provides a practical guide for libraries interested in developing hybrid customer service standards.
Originality/value – This conceptual paper reviews customer service delivery from a developing country viewpoint and deliberates the implications of importing alien practices, while ignoring existing constructive practices which may be integrated to offer more effective service.