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CUSOM Student Workers Guide: Customer Service

Excellent Customer Service: The Basics

  • First things first: when a customer approaches the desk, drop (well, not literally!) what you’re doing, including talking to a co-worker.
  • Be approachable - make eye contact, smile, and greet each patron.
  • Ask how you can help. Use language such as: “How may I help you?”, or “What can I help you with today?”
    • Your all-important greeting is one reason we ask you not to: get too engrossed in homework or reading to notice and greet customers.  
  • Listen carefully and respectfully to the customer's request; pay close attention to questions. Ask for additional information if needed to clarify the customer’s needs.
  • Be knowledgeable about your job and provide correct information. If you are unsure about something, ask a supervisor for assistance or look up the information as quickly as you can.
    • During ‘slow’ times, familiarize yourself with library websites, the online catalog, databases, etc.
    • Offer resources to the customers.
  • Follow up, and confirm that the customer's questions have been answered. It never hurts to say something like: “Let me know if you need anything else.”
  • Remember that helping customers is your most important job.  

Ask for help!

We don’t expect you to have an answer for every question. We do expect you to help every customer who has a question – whether that means asking a co-worker or supervisor; looking up information on the library website, WorkFlows, or this LibGuide; or referring the customer to the medical librarian or assistant medical librarian.

If you are working at a time when no one else is available to help, leave a note for the regular library staff with the question and the customer’s contact information. Assure the customer that someone will get back to them as soon as possible (give a rough time estimate if you can).

An Attitude of Service

Helping customers is the most important and most visible part of your job at the Medical Library. A friendly, service-oriented attitude tells each customer that they have come to the right place to find the resources they need.

Like every skill you develop in a workplace, learning how to provide excellent customer service and being comfortable in your role come with time, care, and practice.

Grace Under Pressure

How to Deal with a Difficult Situation/Frustrated Customer

At times you may have a customer who is frustrated with “the system,” or just with the way her/his day is going. Remind yourself that it’s not personal, and that your friendly assistance, within acceptable limits, can help diffuse the situation for them. Making an effort, even if you’re not successful in the end, will leave the customer feeling more valued and satisfied with their experience.

  • Be positive. Don’t use body language that is confrontational or defensive.
  • Stay calm and listen carefully to what the person says. Assume they are giving accurate information. Give them time to say everything they need to without interrupting.
  • Ask questions if you need clarification so that you understand exactly what the problem is.
  • Try to solve the problem. Tell the customer how you intend to help them. Be creative; offer alternatives.
  • If you are unable to help, find someone else who may be able to solve the problem.
  • If the customer’s frustration is caused by misinformation from the library, correct the information and apologize.

If the frustration is caused by library or department rules, explain why the rule is in place. If possible, show them the rule in writing in the student worker manual.