Stay@Home: Making Robust Customer Service Possible
Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library, Ohio
Due to the pandemic and closure of our 42 Library locations, the Virtual Information Center became a pivotal service point for our community. The VIC didn’t miss a day of work to support our community members via phone, chat and email, and staff from across the system were trained to help the VIC provide service from their homes.
With the Stay@Home order and staff not working in-person, we quickly pivoted to have VIC and other staff seamlessly work remotely. As the VIC began to experience increased calls, chats and emails from community members and people across the U.S., we added capacity by training staff from across the system to help the VIC. People appreciated getting help in real time, and those without library cards requested access to our resources. We found ways for residents to get a library card right away without having to leave home.
Before closing, IT staff quickly set up the VIC with laptops, headsets, Wi-Fi hotspots (if needed) and network VPN access. When our community need outgrew the VIC’s capacity, 26 staff were trained and the group rapidly developed a remote support structure. They reached 1,000 calls per day with an average of about 500 calls per day. The extra staff reduced wait times and offered service daily: Monday–Thursday (9 a.m.-9 p.m.), Friday/Saturday (9 a.m.-6 p.m.) and Sunday (1-5 p.m.). Staff made it easier to get a library card online/by phone and connected new cardholders with online resources.
During the closure and phased reopening (March–July), we served our community by:
- Cross-training 26 staff to help the VIC team remotely.
- Helping customers via 57,345 calls,10,825 chats and 7,253 emails with some from across the U.S.
- Creating 7,944 library cards for new customers to use our online resources
- A St. Louis, Mo., caller said he didn’t have a computer and used an almanac to find the 100 largest libraries to call with a question, trying 50 libraries before he was able to speak with our staff, and we were available!
The Virtual Information Center garnered media coverage on Cincinnati Public Radio.