Chat Reference Best Practices
I. Logging on to the Kayako system
a. If you have an assigned shift, please log in a few minutes ahead of time. Be sure to notify the person you are replacing that you are present and ready to take over.
b. If you must leave chat and your replacement has not arrived, stay on for as long as you can and call Lorelei, Sarah, or Robin for backup.
c. When you leave Kayako, please log off the system instead of choosing the “Away” option.
II. Beginning the interaction
a. Accept a chat as soon as you see it; sometimes, the patron has to wait longer for us to get the chat notification than we do, so they may have been waiting longer than we realize.
b. Always begin the interaction by welcoming them to the service, telling them your name, and asking how you can help. If you set up your auto greeting, this will happen automatically.
c. If you are working with another patron, let the person know it will take you a minute to get to the question. For example, you could type “I am currently working with another patron, but I will get back to you as soon as I can. Thank you for your patience.” If there are multiple questions in the queue, try to notify people what their place is in line.
d. If it is relevant, ask the person if they are a faculty member, student, or community member. Faculty and students often have access to our online resources, while community members likely do not unless they come to the building. Knowing which they are will help you choose resources they can actually access.
III. During the Interaction
a. Keep in mind that the patron cannot see your body language, so you only have your words to convey interest and engagement. Let the patron know that you are interested in the question.
b. Ask open ended questions to get the patron to clarify what he or she needs. He or she may not know exactly what question to ask to get the appropriate information.
c. Separate long responses into shorter snippets so that the patron does not think the chat connection has been dropped or that you have forgotten him or her.
d. Follow the patron’s lead in determining how formal your responses are.
e. If the question is going to take a long time, invite the patron to follow up with you via email. If the patron would like to follow up via email, confirm their email address before you end the chat, and ask the patron how soon they need the information.
f. If the patron is not responsive, let them know that you plan on ending the reference transaction unless you hear from them. You might say something like “Are you still there? I haven’t received a response from you in a while, and I am afraid we have been disconnected. If you still have questions, feel free to open up a new chat or to call the library at 801-581-6972 instead.” Give the person at least thirty seconds to respond.
IV. Ending the Interaction
a. Ask the patron if his or her question is answered, or if he or she needs additional help. Invite him or her to call or email you, and provide the appropriate contact information.
b. If you need to leave the session, let the person that you need to wrap up, but suggest that you will follow up via email or that you can transfer the question to another librarian. You could say “I need to leave now, but I would be happy to transfer your question to another library staff member who can help you, or to follow up with you via email. Which would you prefer?”
People manning the Marriott Library's Chat Reference service are expected to adhere to the Library Service Principles, as found in StaffNet on the Outreach and User Services Council page. Excerpts from the document are below - please refer to the full document for further explanation of the service principles.
Patrons' Needs are the Focus of Each Person's Efforts
Uphold the principles of intellectual and academic freedom
Treat everyone with dignity and respect.
Be welcoming and professional.
Strive to be knowledgeable about your work.
Listen to understand.
Accept all questions and requests as valid.
Honor differences and diversity.
Find the best available strategy or solution for meeting user needs.
Support each other in providing service.
Eliminate unnecessary barriers to service.
Resolve mistakes and problems without blame.
Take responsibility for follow through.
Create a teaching and learning environment.