The purpose of this paper is to explore the nature of customer service in the academic library setting and ways in which its management can be best approached in the electronic environment.
The study adopts a two‐phase methodology. First is a content analysis of the literature on customer service in libraries, focusing on electronic services, to identify main issues and strategies being used to address customer issues. This is followed by a qualitative data‐gathering approach to explore user perspectives on the quality of electronic services, focusing on customer service.
The findings reveal that the concerns of library customers in the web environment are similar to those in the traditional library environment. They are concerned about receiving online help for technical problems and also help to search and use information. Reference services are still highly in demand with an emphasis on the characteristics of the online librarian. Another major need is the ability to give feedback and receive a quick response from the library.
The study is limited to web‐based library customer service quality as perceived by postgraduate students at four research universities. Thus, it cannot be generalized to the whole academic library's clientele views, though it is applicable to electronic library services at other institutions. The subjectivity of the researchers' interpretations of qualitative data are also acknowledged.
This paper will be helpful to academic libraries in managing the quality of electronic library services by focusing on what the customers require and deem important. This study contributes to the growing body of knowledge on electronic customer services in academic libraries.
This study contributes to the shortage of studies on the perceived quality of library electronic library services, as is evident in the literature.
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