Friday, December 17, 2010

Good Customer Service: A Facebook Odyssey

I am sorely lacking beautiful screenshots like Laura's Twitter post, but we had kind of a nice library-related social media thing happen this week, so I stole her title.

Kool Kat Katy tweeted earlier this week about a site, oddly called Reasons to Hate (why?), that allows you to search Facebook status updates for strings of words. I searched our library's proper name and came up with a user who had said something like "come on, [Name of My Library], how can you not have [Name of a Fairly Standard Seeming Reference Book]."

I did a quick search and couldn't find it in our catalog either (or in all of WordCat), so I emailed half a dozen of our reference librarians to see if they could find it. I thought I wasn't doing a good search, or that the book was lost or something -- but it turned out that we really didn't have it, and the selector considered it a fairly major ordering oversight. I'm not exactly sure of this part of the story, but apparently the vendor hadn't notified us.... in any case, though, one of the awesome librarians ordered it immediately, found the FB commenter's name, and said he'd email him as soon as the book comes in.

I commented on the guy's FB page this morning, which is ever-so-slightly creepy, especially since I had to do it from my personal account because FB doesn't let me comment as the admin of the library's page. I also gave him the URLs of how to place a purchase request and how to chat with a librarian next time he can't find something that seems like it should be there. He said he was surprised and pleased, and a few of his friends who had commented on the initial status update liked the update. (After he asked, I told him how I'd found him, too... hopefully that takes some of the creepy fourth-wall feeling out of it.)

It would be vastly more helpful if the search could be refined to use boolean terms and -- even more helpful -- to search within particular networks. Most of our users wouldn't actually write our proper name out; they'd just say "the library" and their FB friends would know which library they meant. If it could be limited to networks, we'd really be able to do get a picture of what people are saying.

But anyway, this felt like a little victory -- to be able to help one patron with a reasonable request almost immediately, and surprise him and his friends and maybe make them see the library as a little more responsive. I don't do any direct service at my job at all, so this felt doubly nice. Woo!

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  1. Wow, impressive, Gwen! I am definitely going to start using reasonstohate (seriously, what is with the name?) Hope they improve the search options like you said, or someone else comes out with a better tool.

  2. Update! Apparently allows you to do the same thing, but the search returns results as though they had an "AND" boolean and not the direct phrase. Again, not the use the developers intended (which I believe was to prove to people how not-private their public updates are, which... yes, because stuff on your Wall is public unless you specify otherwise). But quite handy, and I got a few more results that way.

  3. Well, it is a bit creepy. Something to keep in mind when we're parachuting into some random person's status message. I think I'll explain right away how I got there if I do something similar ("Hi, I work at CWIHP and found your update through a search on openbook, I think I can help you...)

  4. I think this is a great reason to have a dedicated staff person "monitoring" Facebook and Twitter comments/complaints about your library. Otherwise really great information can get lost (especially since Twitter doesn't seem to be archiving tweets anymore).

    People use these social networks to vent, to praise, and just write about what they're up to. If people see that a library (or Starbucks, Geico,Best Buy) engage with their customers via these networks (like how other commenters 'liked' Gwen's response) then they'll be more willing to express themselves too. A student tweeted about how our wireless internet "needs to be fixed" so I forwarded it to our IT person and told the tweeter that I did so. Even though it has apparently been a need for awhile, the library decided to invest in more wireless "access points" in time for next semester. Feedback from students can move to-do list items up way fast (or in Gwen's case, a purchase can be immediately made). I made sure to respond to the original tweeter again to say thanks for the feedback and that we're acting upon it. Tweets and Facebook statuses can make a difference, folks!