Newcastle Libraries achieve Customer Service Excellence

Newcastle Libraries achieve Customer Service Excellence

Customers expect the highest levels of service from the businesses and organisations they come into contact with. Similarly, organisations hope their customer service will help to retain customers and grow their business and services.

customer service excellence certificate image


The Customer Service Excellence standard focuses on delivery, timeliness, information, professionalism and staff attitude. It also requires organisations to have a comprehensive insight into their customer, understand the user’s experience and have sound processes in place to measure customer satisfaction with the service.

In March 2022, Newcastle Libraries were assessed by SGS for this standard. The Libraries' approach to tackling poverty was a particular strength:

  • there is a joined up approach to addressing poverty across all agencies;
  • officers have been trained to spot the signs of poverty;
  • [staff are] advising customers on how to complete UC applications and helping them to find the right support.

The Assessor judged Newcastle Libraries to have the following areas of Compliance Plus (exceeding the level which is required to achieve the Standard)

  • Our approach to supporting the city during the pandemic, especially the number of alternative roles that Library staff have covered, and since re-opening, "the focus is now on helping the customers to return to normal and make the most of the library services."
  • The library service culture of working in partnership with other agencies.
  • City Library as a stand-alone facility.

The Assessor identified 12 areas of Good Practice:

  • Continued success and increased capacity of our UK Visa Service.
  • Flexible approach to change to meet new challenges, for example, poverty.
  • Recently replaced the OPAC (Online Public Access Catalogue) with a new interface called Discover Newcastle Libraries.
  • As we come out of the pandemic restrictions many more events are planned for customers this year.
  • Greater use is being made of social media platforms supported by a dedicated team.
  • Charges for reservations and fines for returning items have been permanently removed.
  • Cleanliness of libraries.
  • Helping to improve customer IT skills.
  • Gathering customer satisfaction feedback which alongside traditional methods now includes the use of QR codes on posters.
  • Open day held to assess the business viability of a new cafe provision at City Library.
  • Environmental and sustainability improvement to City Library including moving to LED lighting, fitting solar panels on the roof and introducing air source heat pumps.
  • Staff annual appraisals and reviews with line managers in place. The Service Manager is interviewing all staff to gather their views on how the service should be going forward.

"Many more events are planned for customers this year. This is across all libraries and across the city... This is encouraging people to get back into the habit of visiting their local library." (CSE Assessor).

The Baldy Holly Band playing Rock and Roll music at City Library

Did you know?

Library staff assisted Newcastle's response to Covid-19 by supporting many and varied services including:

Allocations Team - matching volunteers to carry out tasks for people who requested help in lockdown

Asymptomatic Testing Centre

Bereavement Services

Business Grants support 

Care at Home team - to provide care at home and residential care services working in Byker Lodge

City Hosts - a friendly role supporting the re-opening of shops and businesses in the city centre

Citylife Line - residents phoned to ask for help with food or medicine delivery during national lockdown


Civic Centre Main Reception

Newcastle GP Services (NGPS) Vaccination Sites - admin staff and marshalls onsite, plus Central Admin Team support

PPE Distribution - emergency supplies distribution


Service Support Assistants (role change)

Track and Trace

Welfare and Wellbeing - supported residents who had symptoms, had tested positive or who were told to self-isolate by Track and Trace

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