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Bryan Edwards

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Research involving customer service in library



I picked up a piece of research a few years ago of an experiment in a library where researchers surveyed users outside a library on 2 separate occasions. One where the librarians had been deliberately un-customer friendly (no eye contact; no emotion etc), and the second where they provided a lot of warm contact. On the first survey, users reported a poor impresssion but complaining about book unavailability, poor lighting etc. None of these factors were changed between the surveys, however users reported a much better impression the second time around but citing other factors about the experience. Very few reported the change in librarian's behaviour - the only thing that had changed.

Can anyone tell me the source of this experiment - who did it? where was it completed? Also, does anyone know of any alternative research/experiments demonstrating the same thing?

Happy Days!


2 Responses

  1. Customer service in libraries


    I recall reading about this a number of years ago, probably in the 1980s so the reasearch may have been in the 1970s. As I recall, the aim was to provide near identical experiences but with one significant difference. In the first experience there was no touch. In the second the librarians were asked to try and touch the hand of the customer – perhaps with only their fingers briefly coming in contact – as the ticket was returned to the person. The customers were then surveyed on the way out about the service they received. The research suggested that people rated the service higher in the second situation, where touch took place, even though they were usually not conciously aware of having been touched. Whilst this was an interesting experiment I can recall having doubts about the ability to isolate such a factor in a limited experiment. For example, it is impossible to know whether other subtle behaviours changed in the second situation, such as a slightly warmer smile which can occur subconciously when touching another person. The conclusion was that touch plays an important part in customer service. As part of many other good behavioural practices, a friendly, non-intrusive touch, probably does increase perceived satisfaction in many situations with people from certain cultures. No surprises there. I think you are right that most customers reported many other factors (including lighting and other things that had been constant) but not the specific behaviour of the librarian. This is all from memory so forgive me if I am mistaken on any of the details.

    I have been through my old resources but cannot find any details or references. I have no idea whether this has been validated subsequently.


  2. Customer service research – thank you

    Many thanks, Graham, for your reply. Perhaops the research wasn’t as robust in demonstrating a clear link betwween the product on offer and the personal service generated, as I first thought.

    Happy days!


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