Assisting patrons with your digital resources when virtual support is the only option can be a challenge for many teams. We have found that there are four steps to successfully providing e-media support for patrons and these principles don’t only apply to remote support, but onsite support as well.
Recognize and Organize Your Resources
In the case of any troubleshooting scenario, access to information is crucial.
By gathering all information about e-media into a centralized location such as a knowledge-base, Word Document or Google Document, you ensure that information can be quickly and easily accessed by any member of your staff.
Information to collect can include:
- What products your organization currently offers to patrons.
- Support website links for these platforms.
- Notes about common issues you and your team are receiving calls about.
- Knowledgeable Staff Members Numbers/Extensions.
Gathering this information in one place allows you to quickly develop a plan of action for patron issues upon receiving them.
Here at Unique, we created an internal program called the “Help Desk” in order to house this information. When patrons receive a call, they look at a table that lists all platforms a client offers, checkout limits, hold limits, loan periods and the works. Before having to troubleshoot a platform, they know the very basics about it and who does or does not have access to it. Once the agent deems the client offers the platform and the patron is eligible to access it, all the agent does is open the Help desk that has the platforms information regarding compatible devices, common issues we have experienced, links to the official platform support website, and even test account numbers so they can walk along in the process with the patron and see what they should be seeing in order to assist troubleshooting.
Armed with the right information, even the least tech savvy individual can point a patron in the right direction.
Understand the Pros and Cons of your Communication Medium(s)
The medium of communication you use during e-media troubleshooting is key in identifying best troubleshooting practices.
Of course, in person e-media support is the golden standard of troubleshooting. It allows you to witness everything the patron is doing and show them the correct steps. Unfortunately, 2020 has made this difficult, or impossible due to local regulations. So let’s look at the advantage of the four other communication mediums available to us for remote support.
Most common method in use is phone communication. On the phone, you get a more personal and real time interaction. The primary pro of the phone interaction is that it is the most personal. Hearing your voice and personality helps you make a connection with an individual and it often helps ease frustrations as patrons recognize you are a human being as well and are trying to assist them with their issue. The cons of phone calls are that you will find yourself at the mercy of the patron describing what is happening on the screen and there is no easy way to track what troubleshooting steps you and the patrons have taken in the event that the patron has to call back in.
Another common communication medium we all know and have a love hate relationship with is email. With email, you can provide direct links patrons can click that will direct them to platform support pages and articles, and the ability to include pictures showing steps. In addition to this, patrons also have an email they can go back to if the issue pops up again, and you and your team can create email templates for the most common issues your patrons are experiencing in order to help save time. The Cons of emails of course are that it can take a while and the spam filter has proven a worthy adversary these days. On top of this, let’s be honest, how often does the average individual check their email and respond these days? This can lead to a large amount of delay between interactions and responses feeling somewhat impersonal.
Something that has grown in popularity these days is online chat. Some of you will already have a chat platform in place on your website, maybe even through us. This allows for the real-time interaction and the ability to transfer direct links to the patron while troubleshooting. Much like the phone however, being blind to what a patron is doing can sometimes prove challenging and as you may have experienced before, this can seem to be slightly more non-personal than the phone as text cannot always convey your tone and personality.
Zoom or your company’s equivalent of a video chat platform is the social distancing gold standard for troubleshooting interactions. It allows all the benefits of in person face to face interaction while also allowing chat features that will allow you to send clickable links to the patron. Some of you may already have experience with Zoom due to the pandemic. But video chats major con is that in order to use it, there has to be a little bit of technical know-how on the part of the patron and requires a system to already be in place to be used.
Here at Unique, we utilize Phone and Chat communication mediums for support and for clients we provide both chat and phone support for, we are able to use both mediums at times to help resolve issues as efficiently as possible. For your organization, that will look different of course but identifying the pros and cons of the communication Mediums available for you will help save headaches in the long run as it helps you think about the best way to interact with the patron.
Decide Upon and Document Your Troubleshooting Flow
Everyone gets annoyed when technicians on the phone ask them questions that seem “simple” in nature. From my experience, asking a person if they turned a device off and on again can incite some interesting emotions. But, there is a reason we do this. By ruling out all of the “small things” we can save time and identify larger issues. Starting with “can I have your library card number” allows you as a staff member to check their account for blocks and eligibility. “Can you restart your device so we can start this process with a clean slate?” allows you to ask “did you turn it off and on again” and ensure that a background process isn’t causing an issue without sounding like a broken record.
As an organization, equipping your staff with a well-designed troubleshooting flow will allow for your staff members to resolve a large number of issues even without an extensive background with electronics. It also allows one staff member to pick up where one may have left off with a patron in the event of a callback or disconnect.
Have Patience and Compassion
Obviously, e-media calls can often take longer than normal depending on the tech savvy of a patron. As a result, patrons get frustrated and staff can get frustrated, but it’s truly important to remember that we don’t know what the person is going through. There are some patrons who may have been forced to use e-media due to the pandemic who would normally use a physical copy. Someone who has never used their smartphone for anything other than calls, or their computer for nothing more than email and keeping in touch with the family.
One of the calls that stood out most to me was about three years ago. I had a lady on the phone who was adamant about getting the issue resolved no matter how long it took. After nearly two hours, it finally clicked and she felt comfortable using the program. After she was able to do it herself, she informed me that due to the bad strain of flu that was going around, she along with all the others inhabitants of the assisted living facility were quarantined in their rooms with nothing to do. Normally, the library would drop of books via outreach, but that service was cut off due to orders and this was one of her only forms of entertainment and escape. A helpful reminder of why this service is crucial, especially nowadays with the latest Coronavirus impacts.
About the Author
Sam Crabtree is the Client and Services Delivery Manager for Unique. Previously, he spent three years on the phone providing E-media support for Unique clients and has over ten years of electronic troubleshooting experience.
If you need any assistance along your journey, we’re here for support. Please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a consultation and quote today.