Years of marketing experiments have shows that “widgets” or online chat forms are very popular with patrons, and increase traffic dramatically no matter how they’re scheduled. Using that knowledge, Chatstaff’s advantage is that we can accommodate any staffing model that makes sense for you, instead of forcing you into a model that might not be useful to your patrons.
Every library’s needs are different, and so we work with you to determine what hours you need coverage for, and what type of coverage you need during them. This means that at the end of the day, your patrons get the best possible service for what you can afford to spend.
Do you want your patrons to have 24×7 coverage, or do you only want the service available during high-traffic hours?
There are a number of advantages both ways. Having the service available all the time means you don’t have to spend time second-guessing when your patrons are likely to want it, and because we set prices according to expected traffic, the slow traffic during the night means it doesn’t cost as much per hour. Alternatively, by focusing on the hours you consider most important you can get the most concentrated bang for your buck.
Do you want Chatstaff to handle all the questions, or do you want them to backup?
Generally if you want Chatstaff scheduled at night, then we would be the only ones answering questions during that time. However, if you are comfortable staffing your own virtual reference service during the day, we encourage you to do so whenever you can. Because Chatstaff’s partnership with LibraryH3lp allows us to offer automatic, seamless backup options, you don’t have to choose between local expertise and constant availability. We maximize quality by using a system that lets your librarians answer your own patrons whenever possible, then shifts to the backup service when locals aren’t available. This way, your patrons get the best librarian possible for their question, and you get sustainable, reasonable costs.
Do you want the service to be open on federal holidays?
Some libraries want the service to be open all the time, no matter what. Others want it to be shut down whenever the library is closed for a holiday. It’s entirely up to you.