Tag Archives: Text Messaging Customer Service

4 Ways Text Messaging Can Improve Your Patron Communications

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A recent Pew study revealed that 80 percent of American cell phone owners use text messaging as a means of communication, sending or receiving an average of 41.5 text messages per day. For the 18-24 age group, 97 percent of cell phone owners text, sending or receiving an average of 109.5 texts per day.

One look at these numbers and you know instantly how to reach a majority of your current library patrons and an even greater majority of tomorrow’s library patrons: via text.

Text messaging is a fast and efficient means of communicating with your library patrons and there are many ways in which you can use text messaging to improve your patron communications. Here are just a few types of messages you can communicate to your patrons via text:

1. Circulation Notices Such as Holds and Overdues.

Emails today convey much less of a sense of urgency than they did a few years ago, especially to younger library patrons. To catch your users’ attention with important circulation notices, try sending them via text instead of email. This way, they can act on the notices immediately.

2. Promotional Polls and Contests

A great way to keep your patrons engaged is to link promotions to programming and other library events. Your library can have contests where you send out polls or questions via text for prizes such as first row seats to an upcoming speaker (ie. “The first three patrons to text us the author of Tender Is the Night win front row seats to our October Author Speaker Series Event”). You can also hold a text vote to choose between two programming possibilities for an upcoming date.

3. URLs to Newsletters or Other Library Publications

Does your library publish a monthly newsletter? A terrific way to get the newsletter into the hands of your patrons so they may have immediate access is to send them a short text with the URL right when it is published. Your patrons can be reading the newsletter that your staff worked so hard on literally within seconds of publication.

4. Programming Reminders

In today’s fast-paced and information-packed world, we need to be reminded of things. A great way to promote your library programs is to send your patrons text reminders of upcoming events, along with URLs linking to further information if available. This way, they can check their schedules on the go and even add the events directly from your text to their calendars.

Try these text messaging tips to improve communications at your library. We think your patrons will appreciate it.

Can personalized library customer service survive in our increasingly digital and mobile world?

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The image of the library in the modern world is changing as rapidly as technology. Gone are the silent, cavernous collections guarded by scowling librarians. Libraries of today are as much about computers and information technology as they are about books. But, one of the things that has always made the library experience so special is the personal touch that customer service provides. The human aspect of libraries is something that can never be replaced by technology, and indeed, today it is more important than ever due to the massive amount of information that is available to patrons.

In the libraries of yesterday, patrons may have sought help in using the card catalogue or locating a book on the shelves. The customer service aspect of those times was much narrower in scope. A patron today may need assistance with a variety of media; books, software, internet databases, and more. Even though so much can be accessed in a solitary fashion, i.e. the patron perusing materials independently, the library experience can be made so much better with strong, personalized customer service. And, thanks to ever-evolving options, the way that customer service can be provided is as diverse as technology itself.

Customer service no longer has to be limited to the actual brick-and-mortar library. Texting, which is vastly popular in society as a whole, is a wonderful tool for librarians to use when helping patrons. A patron can literally be anywhere and still be able to get personalized help and important answers. As much information as there is in the world, there is still no substitute for having an actual knowledgeable person to help a patron with a question. Personalized customer service is as vital today as ever—perhaps even more so! It is a very reachable goal for all libraries to foster strong interaction with their patrons through ever more diverse means. Pursuing this ideal will ensure that libraries remain the most vital source of information that they can be.

About the author: Lizabeth C.S. Bell has worked as a librarian, and has a great appreciation for the power of information. She has degrees in English literature and library science. Currently, Lizabeth is a freelance editor and writer. Follow her on Twitter @LizBell9.

Library Customer Service: Online vs. In-Person (Ask a Librarian Software vs. Asking a Librarian in Real Life)

Library-Customer-Service-Mosio-for-Libraries

Libraries, and the folks who work in them, solve problems for patrons by connecting them with the resources and information that they need.

In today’s online world an ever-increasing amount of this help is taking place via the magic of the web and mobile technologies. Patrons are no longer face-to-face with the library staff who are helping them. Instead, they are communicating with the library from their homes, their offices, and on-the-go via their mobile devices.

Libraries today must be ready to deliver excellent customer service in this online environment. Top-notch customer service is something patrons have come to expect from libraries, and this service needs to extend to the growing world of virtual assistance.

Online customer service is applied in different ways than face-to-face customer service, but it adheres to the same two central precepts:

(1) Ensure the patron knows you are listening to his or her query and that you are committed to helping until his or her information problem is resolved; and

(2) Do it with a smile on your face.

Using Ask a Librarian Software you can achieve number one by frequently communicating with patrons so they know you have not left them. Remember, they cannot see you, so you must tell them exactly what you are doing. One minute of unexplained silence in a chat box can seem an eternity and is enough to lose a patron. If a search is taking longer than expected, give the patron frequent updates so he or she knows you are still with them.

To achieve number two, you must convey your smile with the language that you use. Phrases like, “It’s my pleasure to help you today,” “Have I answered all of your questions fully and completely,” and “Thank you for being so patient,” will go a long way towards conveying that smile and giving your patrons the warm, cared-for feeling they look forward to from a library interaction.

Michael English is an academic librarian and freelance writer/editor.

This article is provided by Mosio for Libraries. To receive these directly in your inbox, please register for our Patron Support Tips Newsletter.


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Mosio and Text a Librarian’s Post to Facebook Function: Now Live!

In February we launched a “Post to Twitter” function within the Mosio mobile messaging platform and Mosio’s Text a Librarian. We wrote a blog post about why this was good for libraries: user generated marketing.

I’ve pasted the original blog post about why it was good for libraries below. It’s great for every business and now the post to Facebook function gives organizations the ability to post questions and answers to the world’s largest and most powerful social network. If you’re a librarian you can read the information below as is, but if you’re a marketing or customer service manager at a company, simply replace the word “patron” with “customer” and “library” with “company” and you’ll see that the feature holds the same great function for either.

Enjoy!

Original Post

A “Post to Twitter” button on websites isn’t a new functionality, but after giving it some thought, we decided to add it to Text a Librarian. The reason? It’s User Generated Content that engages patrons and markets your library services.

SEO + Social Marketing + Patron Engagement
People searching online often type out an entire question in the search box, rather than just a few keywords, to see what results come up. Tweets are indexed by search engines like Google, Bing and soon Yahoo and when an individual searches online by typing out a question, your reference Q&A can appear in search results (aka helpful service + free marketing).

Here’s an excellent example of how the New York Public Library’s AskNYPL tweet of the question “What is the wingspan of a swallow?” is now indexed on Google, marketing their reference services.

Tweeting user generated content of funny, interesting and helpful questions and answers also engages Twitter-following patrons (and their followers through re-tweets) and informs them about your library’s reference services. We’ve seen great uses of Twitter by libraries engaging patrons with reference trivia and daily fun facts.

Spreading Love for Your Library
Many libraries are using Text a Librarian beyond questions and answers as a virtual suggestion box and for patron ideas and opinions about library services (questions, comments and feedback). When a patron texts good ideas and positive feedback, you can use the post to Twitter button to spread the love.

How Do I Start Using It? (for existing Text a Librarian customers):
The Post to Twitter button is an optional function of your service, controlled by your library’s Admin. Please visit the New Features section of your Text a Librarian microboard for details on how to turn it on.

Text Messaging Use in Helplines, Hotlines and Info Lines

Help and Info is Only a Text Away

Yesterday Scarleteen, a free sexuality information resource for teens and young adults went live with their Text Scarleteen service. I’ve been quite impressed by the buzz already surrounding their launch of the service in the first day (and their graphic, above, is great as well). Owned and operated by Heather Corinna (plus a handful of volunteers), Scarleteen provides service to approximately 20-30,000 young adults per month internationally. Heather and her team seem to have no trouble getting traffic to the website where they can ask questions via email or read and respond to messages on their message board.

Scarleteen’s use of text messaging in this way isn’t augmenting a phone line, but rather using it as an additional way for young people to get in touch with someone who cares when they’re out in the world. Last month I wrote a post on our mobile answers blog called “sex and health education for teens and young adults via mobile text messaging – private, personal, anonymous, and effective” pointing out some of the reasons we’ve been contacted lately by health centers and services on campuses and in the community. In a recent meeting with an organization that provides youth lines, they told us that their phone call volumes were going down. It makes sense. Americans on average, text twice as much as they talk on their mobile devices. If teens aren’t talking to their friends as much on the phone, preferring texting, then it’s not going to be their first choice in communication tool for speaking to hotlines or helplines. The organization that we met with knows using text messaging to communicate will prove to be more successful. I’d argue this is the case not only for teens, but 20-35 year olds as well, even if for different reasons.

Consumers expect businesses to have a website. They expect many businesses to have a toll-free number. If your audience carries a mobile phone, they’re going to expect to communicate with you on that device and behaviors are showing that it’s not going to be talking.

More and more libraries are beginning to understand this and moving that way. They use text messaging as a way to extend their outreach, expand their walls and communicate with patrons wherever they are. It’s an exciting movement and very fun to watch. What we’re seeing with our customers is the understanding that simply having texting capabilities isn’t enough. There has to be a way to collaborate, archive, search, run statistics and become more efficient in responding through the mobile medium. We’re happy they’re choosing us to do so and are getting more and more interest in our text messaging for hotlines, helplines and info lines software.

Below I’ve reposted the “9 reasons to use mobile messaging for sex and health education for teens and young adults” in case you haven’t seen it yet. Most of the reasons below can be applied to any organization in communicating with all U.S. mobile phone users these days, not just the younger demographic, but that’s for another post.

9 Reasons to use Mobile Text Messaging for Sex and Health Education for Teens and Young Adults

1. Their mobile phone is everywhere they are. Phones are in their pockets and in their purses, everywhere they go. Text messaging offers a quick, discrete method of communication whenever and wherever advice is needed.

2. Text messaging technologies exist that provide anonymous interactions, allowing conversations to be private and confidential.

3. It is difficult to get over the hurdle of calling or coming in face-to-face for advice or help. Starting the conversation via text messaging can lead to more personal interactions (phone or appointment) once a level of comfort has been reached.

4. 80% of 18-34 year olds report cell phone as “lifeline” in a recent survey conducted by Sprint.

5. “Sexting” is a real problem. Utilizing the same medium to educate students can make a positive impact on negative behavior. They are obviously communicating about sex with their peers through text messaging & mobile photos, so this channel is open for healthier conversations.

6. 71% of teens and 90% of college students own a cell phone (Pew Internet and Student Monitor, respectively).  Not all own computers or have the privacy at home to be able to consult health professionals and sex education specialists.

7. Young people already understand texting can be used beyond peer-to-peer interactions. American Idol and youth-targeted marketing campaigns have done this for years, so there is no obstacle or major challenge for them to understand how a text messaging service works.

8. Quick, immediate, real-time availability by health services/information specialists can help prevent delayed, long-term issues.

9. It is a lot easier than you may think to implement a text message service and information helpline to reach more teens and young adults.

Texting the Library – Beyond Reference Services

Text the Library With Comments, Feedback and Suggestions

Enabling libraries to set up mobile text messaging reference services so patrons can ask questions has been the primary use of our technology to date. In fact, mobile questions and answers is our business, it’s what we geek out on every day at work. But there’s another use for Mosio’s Text a Librarian currently being utilized and we’d like to encourage more of it: Patron feedback and suggestions via text messaging.

Encouraging patrons to text comments, suggestions and feedback can be a great way to gather intelligence about library use and provide insight on opportunities to better serve them. Being able to collect this feedback everywhere throughout the library beyond a stationary suggestion box allows patrons to chime in at their point of experience. Plus, it will get them to start using your mobile reference service, showing them all of the ways they can communicate with the library.

As a company, Mosio prides itself on listening to the suggestions and feedback of librarians to help make our software better. The product development team always wants to know how people are using the service, what would make it better, more useful, easier to interact with. The product has come a long way in the past 8 months since we launched, but we’re not done making it better. The same is true for those libraries we see who are embracing new technologies and services to become more relevant to patron needs.

Of course, there are always the traditional methods of gathering feedback through simple conversations, suggestion boxes, emails, surveys, etc, but if your library is already offering a text message reference service, you can easily extend the service to include comments and suggestions.

“Questions, Comments, Feedback? Text Us!”

By making it easier for them to communicate with you when they have ideas, you can collect great information that’s helpful to the entire library. Capturing patron thoughts in a database, where reports can be run, shared and talked about, gives you the ability to make ongoing improvements to your library services.

To those libraries who have already put this new use into play, we applaud you! For those looking to get interested, we’ll be creating and posting some easy to use comments/feedback patron marketing templates to use very soon, so stay tuned.