Patrons will often ask for information on particular companies or for information on general business trends. These questions may be imbedded in other questions having to do with job interviews, investment information, addresses and telephone numbers, and consumer products. They may ask:
The most important part of answering these types of questions is making sure that you know how the patron intends to use the information.
If someone asks you who's in charge of XYZ Incorporated, you should know whether they want to complain about defective merchandise, apply for a job, locate a relative, buy some stock, or sell their own invention to XYZ. Be sure to indicate this reason if you refer the question to a backup reference service. Often this reason will determine the referral source that will be used to answer the question.
An enormous amount of information is available on companies, and many times the question can be answered with a minimum of bother if the information needed is specified. Extra information is not necessarily helpful or desirable from the patron's point of view.
Be as specific as possible. Avoid general terms like "financial information" or "sales data" and use descriptions like "CEO's salary for the past two years including all stock options" or "net and gross sales for the past two fiscal years". If you don't understand what the patron wants, ask for an explanation or, if you are very busy or still confused, ask the patron to write down what they want and to be specific and complete. Ask for examples if possible.
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