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Technology Transforming Library Enquiry Services

Imagine an academic library relying on technology to deliver high quality customer service anywhere, anytime and on any device; where enquiry desks and print resources have been replaced with blended interactions and online resources.  In early 2016 the University of South Australia Library implemented just such an ambitious strategy to address the changing demands of its university community. One year on and the verdict from that community has been overwhelmingly positive, vindicating the decision to implement these changes.

Convenience, timeliness and accurate responses are highly valued by students and staff who now expect access to library services regardless of time, location and device. Intelligent use of technology has made it possible to transition from a traditional bricks and mortar library to a relevant, engaged library service responding to help on demand and at point of need, resulting in a richer, meaningful interaction. This presentation will reflect on the implementation of the new model, lessons learned, and provide evidence of its success through customer feedback, analytics and efficiencies made to processes and staffing.

The changes involved: replacement of fixed service desks with technology rich service points able to replicate a face to face interaction; implementation of proactive chat to library web pages; a knowledge base to improve self-help; placing the library in social media applications; using technological solutions to replace manual processes; improving the existing online environment and resources.

The benefits have been:

  • Improved customer service:
  • Timely and contextual help at point of need:
    – Improved visibility and accessibility of library services (more contact points and increased hours of service)
  • Increase in the number of:
    – virtual chat interactions (65% from 2015, to date)
    – complex queries via chat (50% from 2015, to date)
    – feedback via chat (1100% from 2015, to date)
  • Ability to collect customer experience rating data (currently at 95% satisfaction rating)
  • Analytics that are being used to improve services
  • Increase in self-service:
    – Laptop loans (increase in number of loans, 70% from 2015, to date)
    – Self-service lockers increased the hours of laptop availability to match building opening hours (24×7). No staff intervention is required
    – General material &  Interlibrary Loans – self borrowing (RFID)
  • Staffing, workload and process efficiencies:
  • Fewer staff are required to deliver the service
  • Freeing staff time to work on priority projects such as supporting teaching/research intiatives
  • Staff up skilled and more ‘change ready’
  • Collaborative partnerships developed with similar service providers such as IT
  • Increase in the Library’s profile within the University:
  • the ability to effectively demonstrate library value to Stakeholders via reports, analytics and testimonials