Through these various channels of engagement, the feedback received is managed both at a macro (management / policy ) and micro (operational) level. At a micro level, each comment will be acknowledged and replied within the required service standards. The reply will also be customised to suit the comments given by the customer and appropriate service recovery may be activated if necessary. A dynamic Customer Relationship Management system is in place to log, track and report all cases.
On a macro level, the feedback is distilled into specific categories and shared with the service owners so that they can incorporate it into their policy making and service creation processes. For service gaps, concrete preventive actions are implemented to plug the gaps.
These efforts have resulted in outcomes such as the prototyping and launch of new services (multi item borrowing station, where customers can borrow six items at one go), greater service innovation (mobile applications such as Library in Your Pocket, Mobile READ), design of new libraries (library@orchard, library@chinatown, world’s 1st Green Library for children, My TreeHouse) and enhancement of existing libraries (renovations of libraries incorporating customer feedback).
While technology and infrastructural development has been a key enabler in NLB’s efforts to create values for its customers, increasingly NLB has focused its efforts on good service delivery as that is the impression-forming point for each customer, whether they visit us physically or virtually. To enable staff to perform their duties well, there is strong psychological support from management to frontline and a customised training roadmap that effectively charts out staff training so that they are confident when serving our customers. The training roadmap details relevant training of skills for staff as they progress from their role as a service professional to service coach and ultimately as a service champion or advocate. Besides formal training, there are numerous opportunities for informal training through sharing of cases at various platforms and a quarterly newsletter sent to all staff in the organisation. With these knowledge management tools, information is disseminated to all NLB staff and enhances their awareness of the team work involved in serving our customers.
In addition to the formal and informal training opportunities, there is a strong psychological support from senior management and an organisational service culture within the organisation, which builds staff confidence in handling challenging customers and situations.
Besides engaging customers, NLB sees great value in building partnerships with the community at large, other government agencies and with the private sector. This is done by allowing members of the public to volunteer with the library, otherwise termed as a Friend of the Library (FoL). As our FoL, they participate in activities such as storytelling in the libraries, helping us with library events and lending the library their professional skills. In January 2013, NLB opened the library@chinatown, the first public library in its network fully run by volunteers and with a unique focus on Chinese arts and culture. With the opening of the library@chinatown, we have progressed to a higher level of engagement by involving volunteers in the library operation and enhanced our level of service delivery by reducing dependence on manpower and more self-help.
Partnering with other government agencies has resulted in an idea to co-locate Smart Work Centres in libraries, so that working adults can access the information we provide as well as support their flexible working schemes. This would also lead to building learning communities as people of different backgrounds and professions come together.
NLB’s partnership and collaboration with a private sector partner (City Developments Limited, CDL) has led to the opening of the world’s first green library for children, My Tree House, housed within the Central Public Library in the National Library Building. It is constructed with green materials, with a wide selection of books on the environment and nature as well as green-themed programmes.
Sponsorship from SBS Transit etc in the development of MOLLY, a mobile library bus, which reaches those that are unable to visit the libraries regularly. It visits organisations such as special education schools, volunteer welfare organisations and homes. It is also equipped with iPads so as to allow these users to enhance their reading and learning experience.
In June 2012, an eDevice loan scheme was introduced availing sponsored edevices such as iPads and Tumblebooks Playaways and Kindles for loan to members who do not have the means to purchase or access such devices. To make the experience more meaningful and value-added, borrowers of iPads attend an hour long introductory workshop which introduces them to the device and how they can use it to access NLB’s resources. eReaders were later added to the scheme.
The planning and development of the upcoming library@orchard (to be opened in 2014) also marks a milestone in NLB’s engagement with customers and improving service delivery, as design thinking has been used extensively in the planning of the library space and its identity. By working with a local education institution, user feedback was gathered from a prototype exhibition and the insights are incorporated into the design of the library and its collection.
The Singapore Memory Project launched in August 2011 is a nationwide movement to capture and document precious moments and memories related to Singapore, not just from individuals, but also from organisations, associations, companies and groups. These memories are being collected to share and reinforce the nation’s collective memories as well as to draw Singaporeans from all walks of life and foster greater social cohesion. This will be done not only through NLB’s own efforts, but also by engaging partners in the public and private sector. The project also relies heavily on social media to drive the efforts to collect these memories.
In August 2013, rare historical materials were made accessible through a historic partnership signed between the British Library and NLB during the International Federation of Associations and Institutions annual conference, 2013. Through this project, the British Library’s collection of Malay manuscripts, early maps and archival material related to Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles (founder of Singapore) will be digitised and be available online.
1. Library in Your Pocket
Keeping in line with the mobile revolution, this is a mobile portal where customers can access the library’s online services on mobile devices. After a public trial during which feedback was received that eResources should be included, we have added the service of checking out eBooks and accessing the eResources to this portal.
2. Changes in loan policy
In 2013, the loan policy was revised so that library members with basic membership can loan a total of eight items, out of which they can borrow a maximum of three audiovisual materials.
3. Multi-item borrowing station.
With technological advancement, the self-checkout machine for borrowing books has been enhanced so that customers can place up to six books and borrow them in one step, without having to do so individually.
4. With greater engagement with our stakeholders, this had lead to a better Compliments to Complaints Ratio, tracked at an organisation level (See Section D for the ratio). This is a ratio that measures the total number of compliments received by the organisation (for categories such as customer service, services, facilities, programmes, environment and policies and procedures) versus the total number of complaints received (for the same categories). Most of the feedback received was positive and more constructive, allowing us to improve our services.
This library is a unique example of engaging stakeholders as they are involved in the running of the library and managing it on a daily basis. This also increases their sense of ownership of the library space.
By innovating and continually enhancing our level of public service delivery, we have employed a number of indicators to measure the success of these innovations.
1. The compliments to complaints (CC) ratio, which is tracked at an organisational level on a monthly basis.
2. The annual Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) that is commissioned by NLB and conducted by an independent consultant.
3, NLB is also included in the annual Customer Satisfaction Index of Singapore (CSISG) that is conducted by the Institute of Service Excellence, Singapore Management University, NLB has scored significantly higher than the other public agencies in Singapore.
4. Besides these customer satisfaction indicators, NLB also commissions its own mystery audit surveys and is one of the government agencies audited by the Prime Minister’s Office, as part of the mystery audits across the whole of government.