As a former IT person and a current librarian, I’ve got to say that this article,Want Good IT Customer Service? Visit Your Library, has a lot of truth in it — I definitely see the differences between my former profession and my current one. And as the article points out, many of those differences are on the plus side for librarians. Not all, of course, but that’s a different post.
Let’s take a look:
I believe IT professionals truly want to help others. However, we tend to focus on the technology, not the client. We believe our job is to fix problems, and we expend considerable time and effort doing so. Unfortunately, IT professionals often spend little time communicating with clients (and sometimes even with their CIO) during a problem resolution process. As a result, your clients incorrectly assume that nothing is being done and they become frustrated. Once they start complaining to peers, the organization’s perception of IT takes a hit.
Let’s consider the librarians’ approach. Reference librarians focus their work around the library’s users, rather than around the information materials they provide. Instead of solving the information questions of users, librarians try to teach patrons how to do their own research and assist them in using library technology. A key component in this work is communication, both face-to-face and through the marketing of library services.
Outstanding customer service involves a lot more than sending your people to customer service training. It requires a mind-shift for most IT professionals and also for the organizations they serve. Good planning, excellent communication, ongoing practice and encouragement will change the performance of your IT team, and improve the rest of the organization’s perceptions of IT along the way.
The author, Dawn Thistle, is the former library director and current CIO at Assumption College, so she has a good sense of things from both sides of the table, at least in academia.
One of the things she suggests importing into the IT world from the library is the concept of a “reference interview” or, a “technology interview” in the IT context. It’s a great idea, I think, taking that traditional librarian concept outside the library into the wider world.
Like I mentioned above, there could definitely be a companion article on Why Librarians Should Be More LIke IT People. But librarians’ intense focus on patron needs and trying to uncover their true information needs rather than focusing on technological solutions something we really bring to the table.
And to all the IT people out there who are reading this, let’s start building up that alternative article in the comments!