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User Friendly Chat Reference Jodie Holden Internet/Reference Librarian October 23, 2008.

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Presentation on theme: "User Friendly Chat Reference Jodie Holden Internet/Reference Librarian October 23, 2008."— Presentation transcript:

1 User Friendly Chat Reference Jodie Holden Internet/Reference Librarian October 23, 2008

2 Objectives Use EPLs experience as a framework for learning to build a user-friendly chat reference service and experience. Demonstrate that implementing Chat Reference can be a painless process for all involved and provides opportunity for rewarding customer interaction!

3 Who are our users? Customers Staff Administrator (you?)

4 Planning Software/Application selection What is the best product that will meet our priority criteria (free, easy to use, accessible)? Service Parameters How do I set up chat to best meet customer needs and the operational needs of my division? Staff Expectations What are the expectations for staff for this service and how do I encourage buy-in? Service Expectations How does Chat Reference service fit in the larger framework of Information Services?

5 Planning: Software/Application selection

6 We chose Meebo because: Web-based interface User-friendly widget Customizable to EPLs look Easy to use No complicated procedures to get started or use chat

7 Planning: Software/Application selection Meebo widget:

8 Planning: Software/Application selection Meebo – staff interface:

9 Planning: Service Parameters Service Guidelines Hours of service Access points on website Meebo limitations No encryption Hyperlinks dont work in widget

10 Planning: Staff and Service Expectations Staffing and Operational Needs Who participates in Chat Reference? Do we have enough staff? Do we incorporate branch staff, circulation staff, etc? Types of questions do/dont answer Information service Guidelines

11 Training Staff Training Group training with some one-on-one Train new staff one-on-one Practise time (before going live) Training resources created and made available Email updates and tips User Training None!

12 Chat Reference at EPL: October 2007 – March 2008 Started Oct. 1, 2007 – 0 questions on the first day Hours: Monday – Friday, 3:00 – 6:00pm From Oct – Feb 28 – received 87 questions in total Turning point – give up or expand?

13 Were we User Friendly? No! Why not? Hours of service Access points Policies

14 Chat Reference at EPL: March 2008 - today Expanded our hours to: Monday – Friday, 9:00 – 8:30 Other improvements: Visibility and access Marketing – external and internal Success! From March 2008 – today weve fielded 2675 questions!

15 Customer feedback: Positive

16 I am new to the library but I have to say great system! this is very efficient. I love it Now that is what I call service. I love this chat feature. Thank you so much i love that we can chat online this is a cool way to contact epl

17 Customer feedback: Other

18 Customer Feedback: Negative Customers would like us to answer account questions Frustration from customers when they communicate a need for immediate answers

19 Statistics and Patterns Total Questions since start: 2762 Busiest hour: 5-6 and 6-7 Least busy hour: 12-1 Busiest day: Tuesday (average 19 ques.) Least busy day: Friday (average 13 ques.)

20 Statistics and Patterns Example month of chat stats:

21 Statistics and Patterns

22 Types of Questions Reference In-depth Reference - I am looking for the temperature range of the water coming out of hot water taps in long term care units. Quick reference Homework – What was father lacombe's life like?

23 Types of Questions Account information Renewals PIN requests Other I was wondering if somebody could tell me what is the maximum amount of CDs one is allowed to check out? And books, also.

24 Types of Customers All ages (not just teens!) Homework questions range from probably Grade 7 – University level Libraries testing the service or wanting to contact our library about other services (ILL, customer service questions). Does chat reduce questions from other points of access (telephones, reference desk, AAQ)?

25 Demo Demo of Meebo on EPL site:

26 Challenges Communication online Reference interview Immediacy Instruction Customers If you build it, will they come? What if they come in hordes? Dealing with problem customers Security/Privacy

27 Challenges Staff Expectations of chat Worries about lack of skills and unfamiliarity with the technology Technology Issues Meebo downtime Managing an increasingly busy service with limited tools Usability Security/Privacy

28 Chat Reference at EPL: Future Directions Expand to weekends Look at other software/application options Service policies – are they meeting the needs of our customers? Manage Chat over multiple service points (EPL branches) Improve visibility and access even more! Marketing

29 What is so User Friendly? For Customers: Anonymous Easy to use Instant access to library staff (usually!) Staff Technology is basic - web-based interface Administrator (you?) Tech Support Meebo Facebook group: Organizational support

30 Conclusion Chat reference can be an easy, fun, positive experience for our customers, and a great way to increase the access customers have to our libraries!

31 Thank you! Please contact me! Jodie Holden Internet/Reference Librarian Edmonton Public Library Phone: (780) 496-7033 Email:

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