Chat for your library: Which one is right for you?

For forward-thinking libraries, Chat has become an essential tool for customer support in libraries. It is revolutionizing the way patrons interact and seek assistance. In today’s fast-paced digital world, users expect quick and convenient access to information and guidance, and chat can be the solution to meeting patrons where they are, however they choose to access the library.

Chat offers a real-time and personalized communication channel that bridges the gap between library staff and patrons, enabling efficient and effective support. It allows users to ask questions, seek recommendations, and resolve issues without the need for face-to-face interaction or lengthy phone calls.

By providing a seamless and accessible customer support experience, chat accommodates the diverse needs of library users and fosters greater user satisfaction. It empowers libraries to deliver timely and accurate assistance, enhance user engagement, and build relationships with their patrons remotely. Ultimately, chat has become an indispensable tool that ensures libraries remain responsive and proactive in meeting the evolving demands of their users in the digital era. Chat is clearly the way forward, but how can it work with your library?

Unique Staffed Chat vs other self-managed chat

There are two kinds of chats available for your library: self-managed vs Unique staffed. Different libraries have different needs, so you can explore what works best with your library.

Self-managed chat from other providers is exactly what it sounds like. Your library can use one of the many free or paid software options available for download online, and you can set it up on your website for patrons to use. Your library operates the chat, and library staff interacts directly with the patron to answer questions and resolve the interaction.

Unique Staffed Chat, on the other hand, is completely hands-off for your library. A third party handles all the traffic, and thanks to comprehensive integration, handles nearly any patron inquiry. Attractive widgets that can be embedded on your homepage lead to a simple interface, where chat professionals are ready to interact with your patrons. It offers the best parts of chat, without the additional staff involvement.

Different chats for different needs

When deciding what chat level suits your library best, look at the Suns.

Size– What is the size of your library? Is your patron base big or small? This is especially important compared to how many staff you have available to answer chats at any moment. Big libraries almost always need help staffing their chat, while some rural and smaller libraries can handle it themselves.

User experience– What do your patrons expect from your library? Are they ok with waiting for your staff to finish their current task before getting around to answering their chat? Unique provides incredible customer service to all of our client libraries and their patrons. Do you have a lot of patrons that prefer a language other than English? Unique Chat supports over 50 languages.

Number of chats- Do you know how many chats your library should anticipate? Unique can give you a good idea of the volume you can expect. Some of our client libraries get hundreds of chats per day.

Staff– How many staff members do you generally have working at one given moment? Do they have the extra capacity to handle multiple chats coming in at one time? Would answering chats drag them away from their routines or helping a patron?

Our 2022 Stats

Unique’s managed chat service answered thousands of inquiries on behalf of our client libraries. From hours and directions to holds and renewals, take a look at the most popular inquiries that our Library Communication Professionals encountered in 2022.

Most Popular Times

Highest Volume Day: Monday

Highest Volume Time: 10AM

Highest Volume Month: January

Most Popular Chat Tags

  1. Card/Account Question

  2. Catalog Search/Materials Question 

  3. Hold Request/Edit/Cancel

  4. Program/Events

  5. Library Technology

We saved libraries over 27,000 hours in 2022

Read more: Unique Wrapped 2022

NPS Score: What it is and what it means for your library

Self-Managed Chat experience from other companies

Self-managed software may be appealing initially due to its cost-saving aspect. However, it often falls short in terms of functionality and support. Library staff using self-managed chat software must coordinate and staff the chat themselves, which can be time-consuming and require additional training. Moreover, free chat software may lack professional support, leaving library staff to handle technical issues independently. It is often an inferior experience for both librarians and patrons.

Unique Staffed Chat experience

In contrast, Unique Library’s staffed chat offers a unique and enhanced chat experience. Libraries can opt for their chat to be staffed by communication professionals from Unique Library, ensuring a higher level of expertise and customer service. The managed aspect of our chat service also provides professional tech support, addressing any technical difficulties promptly. Our chat professionals can handle nearly any request from patrons, with no additional input needed from libraries. This professional approach elevates the chat experience, resulting in greater user satisfaction and engagement.

Integration and Compatibility

Free chat software often poses challenges when it comes to integration with other library systems. It may require significant effort to establish connections and ensure seamless data flow between different platforms. On the other hand, Unique Library’s staffed chat pairs our fantastic chat interface with library communication professionals who can connect to your ILS in order to handle patron needs on behalf of your library.

Attractive and Integrated Widget

Unique Library’s staffed chat goes beyond a basic chat window. It provides an attractive and integrated widget that can be customized to align with the library’s branding and user interface. This visually appealing widget seamlessly integrates into the library’s website or online portal, providing a cohesive user experience. The widget’s design and functionality enhance user engagement and encourage interaction with the chat service. Different elements like animation and Spanish widgets can elevate your experience even further.

Multiple Language Support

Our Proprietary chat software supports translation into over 50 languages, so your patrons can communicate in whichever language they prefer. The chat interface translates automatically so conversations are clear and precise for both the chat professional and the patron, eliminating any confusion.

See chat in action

Professional Support Staff

Unlike free chat software, Unique Library’s staffed chat comes with a dedicated support team. Library staff can rely on professional support staff who possess the necessary expertise to address technical issues, provide guidance, and offer ongoing assistance. This ensures a smooth and reliable chat service, allowing library staff to focus on their primary responsibilities without being burdened by technical troubleshooting. All of our clients also have access to an online portal, where they can see how Unique is doing. After chat interactions, patrons can leave feedback, which is all shown in the portal.

Any level of chat for your library

While we specialize in hosting library’s chat on their behalf, we also license our software to libraries, too. Our industry leading widget and chat interface are available to your library, with reporting and technical support part of your subscription to chat. The only thing your library needs to do is staff the chat, and everything else is turn-key simple. A hybrid version is available too, for libraries that wish to staff chat themselves most of the time, but may need additional coverage for closed hours or weekends.

Read More:

What patrons say about our Staffed Chat:

“This was a really great way to get a response for a quick question. I will definitely use this again!”

“Wonderful, fast, and friendly service. It was great getting a nice and a quick response when other sites sometimes the live chats take forever.”

“Very quick response, they answered my question right away. It was nice to have my growing frustration in trying to access content, resolved so quickly. Thank you!”

“This is the best chat service by far! Leslie was great, made everything quick and easy!”

“My agent was great! I honestly did not expect for it to be a real person, but then once I realized it was, I was happy.”

“Paige was fast, knowledgeable and kind! Was able to assist with my renewal request and answer all my questions! Paige made this such a great experience!”

Want to learn more? Get in touch today!

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