Asking the Right Questions

Six weeks ago, we were attempting to coordinate the merger of our circulation help desk and telephone reference desk into a single phone system.  Coordinating the event with AT&T,  IT staff, Circ staff, our pbx system vendor, and me was a delicate balancing exercise, but It all come together early yesterday morning.

Under our old system, callers to the Telephone Reference desk were queued, but callers to Circ Help were handled by a different phone system with no voice mail and no queueing ability.  Now, there are two groups in our Telephone Reference system, each with the ability to queue.  The new greeting asks callers to select “questions about your library card or checked out items” or “all other questions.”

The bottom line is that calls to the reference desk have been about 60% circ-type questions, and we want to direct those questions to circ staff.  Our new tree allows callers to self-select the appropriate desk, and this seems to be working very well.

The next step is to monitor the volume of calls to each side of the house, and develop appropriate staffing levels to handle the calls effectively.  We are still tweaking the software to add flexibility to each workstation: we want the staff person to be able to select which group to log in to: ref or circ.  This isn’t quite happening yet, so we’ll be fine-tuning next week.

We hope this will shorten the time callers need to wait in the queue for help.  I am convinced many of our callers are cell-phone users, and so anything we can do to get them their answers quickly will go a long way towards providing better customer service and generating a little goodwill.

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