Public libraries have seen potential in live chat as a customer service tool for a long time. However, in many cases technical and logistical challenges have limited its usefulness and popularity with patrons.
In this series of posts, we’ll address five common mistakes libraries make with live chat that hamper its utility as a customer service channel. Fixing these things will produce more chats, more patron activity (checkouts, downloads, visits, sign-ups), and fewer phone calls and emails for staff to deal with.
5. Limited Hours
Another built-in limitation of in-house chat coverage is that it’s restricted to library hours. While most libraries are open 60-70 hours a week, library websites are available 24/7, with active customer traffic 100+ hours weekly.
That leaves 30-40 hours each week where the only communication options for online customers are voicemail and email. This represents a significant barrier to service for patrons whose personal schedules and usage habits do not happen to match library operating hours, and a missed opportunity to convert more patron interactions into measurable patron activity.
The cooperative staffing model described in part 4 partially addresses this with 24/7 coverage, but because of its low resolution rate, half or more of patrons end up referred to voicemail or email anyway, substantially reducing its effectiveness.
A more effective solution is to enlist the help of a trusted partner with not only the ability to provide significant additional hours of coverage but also the expertise to resolve a high percentage of patron needs on the first try. Such a partner allows the library to bridge the physical-virtual gap – that 30-40-hour difference between branch hours and online patron activity – in a smart, effective, and economical way.