Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Behind the Scenes of Customer Notifications

We send notifications to our customers regarding holds, overdue items, and assumed lost items. We send these notifications by email, telephone, or US mail and it is up to the customer to choose which method they prefer.

Currently, we have about 363,000 registered customers and here is the breakdown for notification preference:

  • 13% EMAIL
  • 3% US MAIL
Telephone customers will receive a hold notification and overdue notification. Our SVA service handles this process. It will attempt to notify the customer three times. If someone answers or an answering machine answers, it will cue the recording and will count as a notification. If SVA cannot notify the customer about an overdue item, then a mail notice will be sent at the same time that all other mail notices are sent (only for overdue, not holds). If an item status changes to assumed lost, these customers are sent a US Mail notice.

Email customers receive several notifications since it is so much easier to send emails. They receive a hold notification on the day the hold becomes available. If the item has not been picked up after four days, they receive another email. They also receive an email three days prior to an item being overdue, three days after the item is overdue, and ten days after the item is overdue. If an item status changes to assumed lost, these customers are sent a US Mail notice.

US Mail customers receive only one overdue notice, and that is all. They do not receive hold notifications. They will also receive, via US Mail, any assumed lost notices.

Monday, April 13, 2009


We have talked about "Current Location" in a previous post. It tells you where the item is currently located. Two of these locations may seem redundant, but they are, oh, so different. They are LOST-ASSUM (aka Assumed Lost) and LOST-CLAIM (aka Claims Returned).

In short, LOST-ASSUM are items that are so long overdue that we assume they are lost. LOST-CLAIM are items that customers claim to have returned but were never discharged.

Every two weeks, I run several reports on our system that produce overdue mailer notices. One of these notices is the assumed lost notice. This report finds all items that are currently checked out to customers that are over 60 days overdue (NOTE: Since the report is run just once every two weeks, items could actually be up to 73 days overdue before they are assumed lost.) This report changes the "Current Location" of these items to LOST-ASSUM and bills the associated User ID for the cost of the item and a processing fee. Notices are mailed to all customers (even to those who have selected PHONE or EMAIL as their notification choice (more on that on another post)). If the customer returns the item, the customer only owes the maximum $5.00 fine.

At any point in time, a customer may state that they have returned an item that, according to us, was never discharged from their account. A report is created every two weeks that is sent to each agency that lists all items that have been claims returned for the past two weeks. Staff then attempt to locate these items.

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