ILA Best Practices

Is the Personal Touch Still Important?

Posted on: January 15, 2013

Last week I had the opportunity to visit one of the companies that we purchase a limited number of books from each year. It was a really fascinating experience. The owner of the company as well as the regional manager and the vice president of sales met our group of twenty library staff members then proceeded to spend the next four hours with us. They gave us a tour of their facility, answered a myriad of questions and gave us time to wander around the warehouse. It was a librarian’s dream come true. This local company has always been family owned, has several green initiatives in effect and places customer service as one of their highest priorities. In addition, they highly value children’s literacy and donate as much as possible to children who may otherwise  never own a book. Sounds like the perfect company, we should use them for everything, right? Well, the thing is, their materials are more costly than those we get from the big book jobbers. And that is where the conundrum lies.

In this age where our time is at a premium, more and more demands are being placed on us, and our budgets may not be as big as they used to be, where does the personal touch come in? Are we willing to sacrifice excellent customer service from a company where a live person always answers the phone for a 40% discount somewhere else?  Do we stop seeing book representatives for the simplicity of standing orders and the ease of a selection process that only requires a computer and can be done at any time of the day or night? And conversely, should we still value that face to face time with representatives even if they no longer have the love or interest in their products but are just trying to reach their quota?

As we being this new year, is the personal touch still important?

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