May 24, 2018

Astonishing Customer Service

Librarianship is undeniably a service profession. Given that, you would think that our literature would be filled with advice on how to provide astonishing customer service. Instead, it isn’t. Perhaps this is because it can be difficult and expensive to provide surprisingly excellent customer service. But I don’t think it necessarily should be if we approach it with imagination.

What got me thinking about this was the “Mayday” button on the Kindle Fire HDX. This commercial explains what it’s about. Also, as reported in the Huffington Post:

The tech support person can see your screen, draw blue and yellow arrows and circles on it to show you what to do, and even control it. These presumably very, very patient and cheerful folks are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and Amazon says that most calls will be answered within 15 seconds.

Frankly, I was astonished. Astonished that they would offer such an easily-requested service. Astonished that they had built in the capability of their technicians to draw on your screen. Astonished that no one had offered this before.

It should be acknowledged, however, that this feature is not without its critics. And despite the fact that the helping agent cannot see you (you can only see them), it still will give one an odd feeling when using the Mayday button in, say, less than fully clothed status.

Be that as it may, the Kindle team should get kudos for trying to astonish with customer service. From what I’ve seen so far (and I haven’t experienced it myself), it seems like they may have succeeded. Libraries would do well to consider how they can astonish their clientele with customer service.


Roy Tennant About Roy Tennant

Roy Tennant is a Senior Program Officer for OCLC Research. He is the owner of the Web4Lib and XML4Lib electronic discussions, and the creator and editor of Current Cites, a current awareness newsletter published every month since 1990. His books include "Technology in Libraries: Essays in Honor of Anne Grodzins Lipow" (2008), "Managing the Digital Library" (2004), "XML in Libraries" (2002), "Practical HTML: A Self-Paced Tutorial" (1996), and "Crossing the Internet Threshold: An Instructional Handbook" (1993). Roy wrote a monthly column on digital libraries for Library Journal for a decade and has written numerous articles in other professional journals. In 2003, he received the American Library Association's LITA/Library Hi Tech Award for Excellence in Communication for Continuing Education. Follow him on Twitter @rtennant.