Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Have a Plan For Handling Patron Tech Questions

We all know that assisting patrons with public computers and their own devices can test our limits. It is important to have procedures in place to handle the many types of technology questions that patrons ask. This helps staff address these situations with equitability and clearly defined limits of service.

These are a few of the issues that your plan should address:

Have preset time limits for assisting patrons. How much time? It depends on how many staff members are available. Ten minutes is a good rule if you have just two staff members in the library. Making sure you have time to assist all patrons is good customer service.

Avoid providing assistance that could leave you open to liability claims. Never take over the patron’s keyboard or mouse. Never assist patron’s requests for instruction on actions like re-formatting their computer’s hard drive.

Have clear limits on the use of public computers. Don’t, under any circumstances, allow patrons to have administrative access. Those popular coupon websites often require users to install an app to generate coupons. Don’t do it.

Empower technophobic staff to assist patrons. These are reference transactions like any other. Questions like how to make columns in MS Word can be Googled!

For more advice on this and other library IT topics check out Christopher Brown’s Crash Course in Technology Planning (2016) from the State Library’s professional collection.