Customer service technology: a benefit or burden?

As a Curtin University student of Graduate Diploma in Information and Library Studies in 2020, one of my lecturers, HW, introduced me to Shiyali Ramamrita Ranganathan, the Indian father of Library Science widely known as S. R. Ranganathan and his views about customer service through i Lectures. Although unaware of S.R. Ranganathan and his work in the field until that eventful day, I compensated for the knowledge void by researching about Ranganathan and his contributions to the field of Library Science.  

According to S. R. Ranganathan, who was under the influence of the Indian classics, especially the Vedas, which Sanskrit word translates into knowledge, a user or guest visiting the ‘Library’ for its services must be treated like a god. Such a guest deserves a Librarian’s undivided attention and sincerity, the best possible services sans ego, and in all modesty, without offending the laws of Library Science, and the best knowledge and the best information. I believe S. R. Ranganathan’s then philosophy has been put into a nutshell in the 21st Century as Lifelong learning skills. Ranganathan’s views about Information Professionals and their radiant personality being felt by every reader and how, “Krishna-like, the librarian should now and again be by the side of every reader. He should never settle down to his seat; nor should escape into the retiring room. He should move among readers; he should be accessible to them… and he must respond to every query of the user to satisfy the quest for knowledge and information,” even though not outdated has undergone a sea change since the introduction of Integrated Library Systems.

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Heavy reliance on technology-based-customer-service also means that when the internet or server is down, unless ILS has offline functionalities or capabilities, customer service comes to a standstill. Check-out and discharge become next to impossible unless the librarian is shrewd enough to take down the barcode or other details from the patron’s membership card for delayed entries. Computer bookings for varied purposes become pointless as the customers are unable to fulfil the purpose of their visit and due to the connectivity issues between the devices and the shared printer server printing is also hindered. Students attending the library for digital library tours also known as orientation sessions court disappointment due to the presenter’s inability to walk them through the library website and the variety of subject specific digital resources available to them. Irrespective of the tech-savviness of those librarians whose ingenuity is evident in the way they come up with alternatives such as ‘Screencastify’ recording, and presentations downloaded in formats that do not require internet to play, etc., customer service is highly dependent of efficient and effective technologies.

Is customer service then only the human factor or is it the technology that guarantees ease, simplicity, and speed?  Or does the definition of modern-day customer service include both. Be enlightened by the sharp views of the presenter in the video by accessing it!

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