I work in an academic library, though I don't work with the public. Thus, I think a lot about how to help our students but very little time actually helping them face-to-face.
As the school year is set to begin, two of our biggest questions are:
How do we better serve our students?
How do we better serve our faculty?
These questions are equally important and equally vital to our success as an institution.
When we think about serving students, we think a lot about how to make the website and catalog easier to use and how to "be where our users are." Jane at A Wandering Eyre has a fantastic post about how better serving students is as much about those technologically-related things as it is about being helpful.
Jane gives several great examples of how her library is a helpful, useful place for students. The staff answers every question asked of them with an actual answer or the name of someone who can do the answering. The library has partnered with IT to have an IT station near their reference desk where students can ask questions about managing their accounts. The staff lets students eat in their library.
All of these things point to a level of friendliness that students may not view as customer service but which do serve the user in a tangible way. By making the library seem friendly and useful, the librarians that staff it have ensured a base of customers that they can serve.
I think this can be a lesson for all libraries wrestling with the question of better serving their users. Anticipating the user's needs can be as complex as having faceted browse in one's catalog or as simple as giving helpful, straightforward answers.