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UWM Music Library Student Employee Guide: Excellence in
Customer Service

Training Resources for new student workers in the Music & Curriculum Library


Have an Upset Customer?

You might be the FIRST person an upset customer reaches; do your best to be their LAST . . .
  • Listen and let them vent if that seems appropriate.  If you have a line of other customers, call a supervisor to do the listening.                          . . . However, if the "venting" turns into yelling or includes profanities, call Security or your supervisor.
  • Apologize for their trouble if there seems to have been a case of miscommunication.  You don't need to take the blame to offer the apology.    . . . Be sypathetic IF you can be sincere about it - "Yes, the signage can be confusing at times; let me show you on this floorplan handout."
  • Solve their problem whenever you can, by identifying a solution or finding the person who has the authority to act.
  • Thank them for their business.  A simple "Thanks for coming in." or "Thank you for calling this to our attention." is generally appreciated.

Words of Advice

Treat the patron as you would like to be treated.

If you were frustrated, how would you want to be treated? If you were new, what would you want from the employee?

We want them to come back and to feel comfortable in the library. Do your part to make that happen!

Customer Service Basics

We are all customers - what do we appreciate in a customer service experience?  What makes it "excellent"?

This session will provide a general overview of good customer service characteristics.

1) Make eye-contact.  Add a smile or even a nod, to acknowledge the customer.

2) Put yourself in the shoes of the patron.  Many only "ask" as a last resort, so make it easy for them!

3) Remember, there are more than 4,000 "new" students, faculty and staff at UWM this fall.  When you answer a question for the 10th time, remember it is the FIRST time that particular person has asked it!  If you have an idea on how to better educate the customer (better signage, new handout, etc.) SUGGEST IT to your supervisor or through the online suggestion form!  Your ideas are welcome.

4) Understand the importance of making customers feel special.  When you hear "This is my first time here." offer a cheery "Welcome to the Libraries."

5) Use polite and friendly behavior with customers.  (However, don't offer personal information or anything that makes you uncomfortable.)

6) Don't assume - LISTEN.  Be certain you understand the question.  If you can't understand what is being asked it is okay to ask them to write it down, spell out a name or word, etc.

7) Do as much as possible to meet patron's needs but get it right.  Don't guess at an answer - "Let me double-check that for you." generally won't annoy a customer - they want accurate information.  It's okay to be honest "Sorry, I don't know the policies for that area.  Let's look it up on their website.  or "Let me give them a call.  or The Research Help Desk will be the best place for you to get help with that.  Avoid a wrong answer or wasting users time with a bad referral.

8) Don't end in a "NO" even if that is a correct answer

    Q: Do we own this particular book?  A: No, would you like me to show you haw to determine if one of the other UW System libraries has it?  It could be shipped here in only a few days.

    Q: I'm refusing to pay this fine - will you fix it for me?  A: No, I'm not authorized to handle that; here is the name and email/phone for the person you can talk to about this.

    Q:  It's 10PM and I need help with this research.  Is there a librarian here somewhere?  A:  No, but there is a librarian available 24/7 through the Ask a Librarian chat service.  Let me show you where to click in for that.


Other phrase starters, to turn a "no" answer into a positive customer experience:  "No, I can't do THAT, but what I CAN do for you is . . ."; "If you'd like me to  . . . (notify somebody, supply contact info, etc.), I would be happy to take care of that."


What NOT to do: Ignore the customer; wear inappropriate attire for the workplace; project negative body language, demonstrate lack of interest in meeting the customer’s needs, or use insincere or rude language.

6 Ways to Ask a Reference Question

Customer Service Resources


UWM Libraries
Rights & Responsibilities *

All users of the UWM Libraries are entitled to:

  • Courteous assistance from library staff
  • Access to library resources
  • Library materials that are in good condition
  • A research and study environment free of harassment
  • A clean physical environment

All users of the UWM Libraries have the obligation to:

  • Interact courteously with other users and library staff
  • Keep library materials clean, unmarked, and intact
  • Maintain a quiet environment in designated areas
  • Abide by campus and library guidelines for use of public workstations
  • Refrain from any behavior hindering study, research, or other work

* Complete policy available online.

Presenter Contacts

Have questions?

Presenter Contact Information

x3925 - Linda Kopecky, Head, Research & Instructional Support Department