During busy times when there are many patrons waiting, is it possible to do shorter sessions that still meet the best practices standards and provide good service?
We looked at the strategies employed by some of the QuestionPoint Back Up librarians, since they routinely staff busy times and often have to handle several patrons at once. Here is the strategy of one Back Up librarian, who we will call “Librarian K”. Librarian K’s sessions have this in common:
- Best Practices: K follows these and the policies to a T
- Detachment: K is professional, does not appear flustered by rude patrons, and is non-judgmental regarding questions asked and
- Succinct: Sessions are kept relatively brief: the longest session was 28 minutes
This is how K handles a typical chat session:
- Ask a Question (clarify the request or find out more detail)
- Search for 2-8 minutes
- If site is found, sends site and says, "Can I help you with anything else?"
- If no information is found, says: “ I'm sorry, but I am not able to find this information in the resources available to me. If you like, I can forward your question to the library for additional research. You would receive an answer via email.”
- K then sends to follow up if (1) patron wants follow up, and has left an email address (K always confirms patron’s email address with the patron during the session) or (2) patron does not respond but has left an email address.
As a result of following this process for many years, K is able to handle multiple simultaneous sessions, and gets good responses from patrons during sessions and in surveys. We hope K’s approach will be a useful guide as you approach your next chat session during a busy time (or any time!).