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InfoLine

Columbus Metro Library

Innovation Leader: Margie Robertson, Info Line/Rover Manager, mrobertson@columbuslibrary.org

Problem Statement

With 21 busy locations, customer service staff was frequently torn between assisting customers in the branch and answering /responding to customers on the telephone.

Innovation

The purchase and installation of a new phone system in 2003/2004 allowed us to think creatively about new ways to manage incoming phone calls. We expanded a model already in place at our Main Library, where incoming calls to Main were answered centrally, and designed a service center to answer all calls into Main and the 20-branches. The center was launched in 2004 and is staffed with experienced account and information professionals who are trained in providing service via the telephone. We eliminated public telephone numbers for each location and promoted the 645-2ASK central number as “The only number you need to know!”

Progress

InfoLine has been a great success. By freeing Main division and branch staff from taking telephone calls, the centralized 645-2ASK service enables them to focus on providing exceptional customer experience to walk-in customers at their locations. On average, InfoLine receives over 300,000 calls per year and is able to provide one-stop service to over 85% of callers; the remaining calls are transferred to individual divisions or branches when needed, usually for a shelf check. Over the years, InfoLine has also added e-Reference and IM reference to their duties.

In 2006, InfoLine merged with our Rover division creating an even more dynamic service model. Staff alternate between working the phones and filling in at locations as needed due to vacancies, illness, vacation etc. This combination of direct public service and telephone service has made the InfoLine/Rover division is a highly sought after job location. Additionally, staffing efficiencies which emerged due to the launch of the telephone service have contributed to being able to hold steady or reduce FTEs at all locations.