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Building better customer relationships: case studies from Malta and the UK

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to analyse the results of two surveys conducted at the University of Malta Library, 2003-20044 and Lanchester Library, University of Coventry, 2005-2006. Relationships between library staff and their customers are explored using a customer relationships management (CRM) framework. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Focus groups were used to ascertain customer and staff perceptions of the quality of library service and the existing nature of customer/librarian relationships. Findings ‐ CRM was a useful framework for analysing the perceived worth of university libraries. In the contemporary competitive environment, librarians needed not only to ascertain and meet customer need, but to form active collaborations with their customers if the true market potential of academic libraries is to be realised. Good communication strategies are essential for CRM to be successful. Training for staff and customers in information skills and/or new systems is an essential element of a CRM approach. Research limitations/implications ‐ Further large-scale research is desirable to test the basic premise and the methodology employed in greater depth. Practical implications ‐ Involving customers actively in the design and delivery of library services has positive benefits vis-à-vis the perceived worth and value of the service within the wider institution. Originality/value ‐ Demonstrates the value of adopting a CRM strategy within university libraries.
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Keywords: Communications; Customer relations; Malta; United Kingdom; University libraries

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2006

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