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Strategy for Engaging and Consulting Customers

Introduction

The Library Strategy for Engaging and Consulting Customers 2021-2024 follows on from the previous three-year strategy document and outlines how we plan to engage with, and consult our customers over the next three year period.

The purpose of the Strategy is to:

  • Demonstrate our commitment to put our customers at the heart of what we do and to actively consult and engage with them in order to know what they want from the library service.
  • Outline our approach to engaging and involving customers and potential customers using a range of methods appropriate to the needs of each.
  • Explain how we will feedback to customers about the actions taken as a result of their feedback.
  • Outline how and when we will review our Strategy.
  • Present our Action Plan for 2023-24.

Mission and Values Statement

The Strategy is set within the context of our overall Mission and Values Statement which is: 

“To provide high quality Library services and resources in support of the education and research activities of the students and staff of the University and of our other customer groups.”

Our Values Statement makes the following commitments:

  • A library environment that is safe, welcoming and meets the needs of all our customer groups.
  • A commitment to placing Library customers at the heart of our service and acting on their feedback.
  • A commitment to maintain high levels of satisfaction with our services and to work for continuous improvement.
  • A commitment to encourage the involvement of Library customers in the development of Library services.
  • A commitment to use technology effectively to keep services current and effective.

This strategy is set within the context of the work of the Customer Service and Engagement Special Interest Group and informs the work of the Communications Special Interest Group.

 

Our Customers

We recognise the need to be inclusive in terms of our consultation and we make a particular effort to engage with hard to reach and under-represented groups as well as with the wider group of potential customers of the Library Service.

Section 1: Range of Methods for Consulting and Engaging Customers

We use the following methods to consult and engage with our customers:

  • Internal University Surveys - these seek feedback on services offered across the University from a range of internal customers. Most of these take place on an annual basis. For example, the regular Postgraduate Experience Surveys where taught and research postgraduate students are asked for detailed feedback on the services and support offered across the University; the annual First Year and Second Year Student Experience Surveys which offer first and second year students the opportunity to feed back on the services and support offered across the University.

We review all the responses to such surveys and agree suitable remedial action or further development activities as required.

  • Internal Library Surveys – each year we carry out several short, targeted, time-limited surveys covering one or more services and one or more customer groups. The surveys planned for the year ahead are agreed by the Library leadership Team each spring. Our intention is to cover all public services and customer groups on a reasonably regular basis. Surveys carried out during 2022-23 included our annual Customer Satisfaction Survey (all customer groups). Surveys are scheduled very carefully to fit into an overall university schedule and to avoid busy times of the year when students are under particular stress.

We review all the responses to such surveys and agree suitable remedial action or further development activities as required.

  • National Surveys - graduating students are surveyed on an annual basis to seek their feedback on the services and support offered by the university they attended. There is specific question related to the Library service included in this survey. The outcomes from the National Student Survey are used to benchmark against the UK University Library sector as a whole.

The Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) and the Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) are also analysed, and action plans formed from resulting feedback.

We review all the responses to such surveys and agree suitable remedial action or further development activities as required.

  • University Faculty Liaison – the chief mechanism for consulting and engaging with University academic staff is the liaison carried out by Subject Librarians (one assigned to each University School). Subject Librarians work closely with a Library Representative (a member of academic staff in each School who acts as the focal point for liaison and communication for the School). In addition, Subject Librarians often attend School Boards, Staff Student Consultative Committee meetings and other relevant School forums. This mechanism for consultation and engagement receives very positive feedback from academic staff and via other routes. Senior Library staff also attend regular meetings with Heads of School/Faculty representatives to provide updates on the library service and to receive their feedback.
  • Subject Librarians review all feedback received via academic staff and pass it on for wider consideration beyond their Faculty Team where appropriate.
  • Student Engagement– we liaise directly with the Students’ Union via the Student President and other elected Student Officers. We meet the Students’ Union Officers as required and communicate directly on issues of concern and planned Library developments. We attend regular meetings of the Academic Board for Undergraduates and Postgraduates. These meetings allow student representatives to provide direct feedback to senior service managers across the University.

    All feedback received from students is reviewed and acted upon by the relevant service manager or is considered centrally.
  • A range of University Committees have regular input to the development of Library services. These groups include University Operating Board (chaired by the Registrar and Chief Operating Officer). This group consisting of Professional Services Directors and Faculty Pro Vice Chancellors approves and inputs to all significant service developments.

All feedback received from formal University Groups is reviewed and acted upon by the relevant service manager or is considered centrally.

  • External Committees – we provide a range of library services under contract and each contracted group has a formal feedback mechanism. The Healthcare Library Advisory Group offers formal Department of Health feedback on the contracted service offered to HSC employees in Northern Ireland, and the AFBI Contract Monitoring Group and AFBI Library Committee provide input to the management of the AFBI Library. Library managers from each of the hosted libraries meet relevant library staff twice a year to offer feedback and agree an annual service development plan. (Service Level Agreements exist for major contracted services).

All feedback received from these formal external committees is reviewed and acted upon by the relevant service manager or is considered centrally.

  • Webpages – we use our webpages to provide comprehensive and up to date information on all aspects of service delivery, as well as to inform users and potential users about service developments and to offer opportunities for our bespoke customer service pages act as a focus for feedback and provide access to our customer policies. Subject guides (LibGuides) also provide comprehensive information for staff and students in each disciplinary area. The Library Help facility allows customers to search for answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the library services at Queen’s.

All feedback received via the library webpages is reviewed and acted upon by the relevant service manager or is considered centrally. All customers who identify themselves receive a personal response to their feedback.

 

  • Chatbot – the Library Chatbot is available via a widget across the Library webpages and is accessible to customers 24/7.   A Power BI dashboard is used to monitor queries submitted by customers and regular analysis of this dashboard is undertaken to enhance the quality and relevance of automated knowledge base responses.  The Chatbot knowledge base itself also flags suggested topics from incoming customer queries and these suggestions are also used to enhance the service. The Chatbot has recently been improved with the addition of Omnichannel, a live chat service that is integrated into the Chatbot interface to ensure customers can reach a staff member via live chat during peak times.   Customer feedback from this service is gathered via Microsoft Customer Voice and this is reviewed regularly to improve the service.

 

  • Social Media – we make very active use of a range of social media to communicate with current and potential customers and to receive their feedback. This includes having Instagram, Facebook and Twitter sites. Library customers and particularly students, can use these mechanisms to give feedback.

All feedback received via our social media sites is reviewed and acted upon by the relevant service manager or is considered centrally. All Library customers who identify themselves receive a personal response to their feedback. There are separate Twitter accounts for AFBI and HSC customers.

  • Focus Groups - we convene occasional focus groups to seek targeted feedback on a range of proposed service developments. Virtual focus groups are used where appropriate. This offers a particularly effective mechanism for engaging small groups in in-depth conversations.

All feedback received via focus groups is reviewed and acted upon by the relevant service manager or is considered centrally.

  • Customer Journey Mapping – we use customer journey maps to actively engage with customers and find out how customers engage with different aspects of the Library service. We have embedded the use of Customer Journey Maps as an important means of engaging with customers. 

All feedback received from these exercises is reviewed and acted upon by the relevant service manager or is considered centrally.

  • We use Mystery Shoppers to measure customer satisfaction and gain insight into library services. The information provided by Mystery shoppers is used to improve services where possible.

  • User Experience – we use UX methods to uncover the needs, preferences and behaviour of customers, and to provide the opportunity to deliver more effective and relevant services. We plan to use UX to complement the existing methods of consultation to learn more about how our customers experience (and feel about) library services and spaces.

 

Section 2: How the Library Feeds Back to its Customers

We have made the consultation of current and potential customers integral to continually improving our service and have incorporated customer feedback into our annual planning and improvement cycle to inform our annual work plan and service developments. In addition, we advise customers of the results and action taken. This allows a continuous two-way flow of information (“feedback loop”) between us and our customer groups.

We use the following mechanisms on an ongoing basis:

  • Individually - we receive feedback from individual customers via a range of platforms. Including e-mail, social media and phone, as well as in person. This means that a significant amount of our feedback to customers is made on an individual basis. All written comments, compliments or complaints are responded to on an individual basis and in a timely manner by either the relevant service manager or the Assistant Director (Library Services). The issues raised are recorded and reviewed by the Library Leadership team to check for emerging patterns and to deal with ongoing issues.
  • “You said, we did” - we use this to provide feedback to customers on the outcome of significant consultation exercises.
  • Social Media – we use social media (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) to feed back to customers. Social media is accessed by a wide range of Library customers and potential customers and there are separate Twitter accounts aimed at AFBI and HSC customers. An active cross library group plans and oversees the use of social media.
  • Standards of Service – we publish targets and performance data relating to our Standards of Service on our website and make them available to our customers and the wider group of visitors to our websites. The achievement of many of the service standards are promoted on the relevant sections of the library webpages.
  • Internal Reports – we provide formal feedback and present reports to University committees such as Academic Board and University Operating Board as required. Formal communication to Schools also takes place on a regular basis.
  • External Reports - we provide formal feedback and present reports to external committees responsible for management of the library services delivered under contract. Annual reports are presented to the department of Health Library Advisory Group and the AFBI Contract Monitoring Group.

 

Section 3: Reviewing and Evaluating our Strategy and Consultation / Feedback Mechanisms

As well as reviewing the feedback received, we regularly review our strategies and seek new opportunities for consulting and engaging with current and potential customers to ensure that the methods used remain effective and provide reliable and representative results.

The Library Leadership Team review this strategy annually in consultation with the Customer Service Excellence Project Team. The Action Plan for the following year is also agreed. We review the feedback received mapped against all identified customer groups to ensure that we are engaging successfully with all customers. Customers have the opportunity to feedback on the Strategy when it is published, and also on the annual action plan. The Strategy is made available on the Library website and promoted via social media.

Section 4: Feedback from Library Staff

We make full use of library staff feedback – especially the input of frontline staff as they have valuable insight into the needs and requirements of Library customers and potential customers. While a great deal of this takes place informally, the following mechanisms are also used:

  • Team meetings
  • 1:1 meetings
  • Annual PDR (Personal Development Review) process
  • Task and Finish Group meetings
  • Feedback webpage
  • The University Staff Survey
  • Staff “You said, we did”
  • Informal feedback & suggestion form
  • CX Workshops

 

Staff receive feedback on their suggestions via their Line Manager, Task and Finish Group Chairs and via the annual staff briefing event at the beginning of the academic year.

 

Section 5: Priorities over the Lifetime of this Strategy

We have identified the following priorities in terms of our consultation and engagement with customers over the 3 years covered by this Strategy:

  • Our annual Customer Satisfaction Survey has allowed us to build up valuable data as well as providing a means of seeking feedback. The survey is kept under review and adapted as required to ensure its ongoing accuracy and effectiveness.
  • The ongoing use of Mystery Shoppers will continue to be exploited.
  • We will explore new ways of engaging with our customers and potential customers, particularly the hard to reach or underrepresented groups.
  • We will develop the use of UX to complement our existing methods of consultation to learn more about how our customers experience library services and spaces.
  • We will continue to use Customer Journey Mapping.
  • We will review our Customer Service webpages to ensure it is an effective vehicle for customers and potential customers to comment, compliment or complain.
  • We will hold focus groups and carry out surveys as part of the planning for new or improved services.
  • We will publish our Annual Report.
  • We will record and analyse customer feedback on an annual basis.

 

During this period, we will continue to be informed by best practice in other sectors and will benchmark ourselves against comparator institutions.

 

Action Plan for Consultation and Engagement 2023-24

 ACTIVITY

RESPONSIBILITY

TARGET DATE

 

Consultation Activity

 

 

 

National Student Survey

DASA

Spring 2024

 

Postgraduate Taught/Research Experience Survey

DASA

Spring 2024

 

First Year Experience Survey

DASA

Spring 2024

 

Second Year Experience Survey

DASA

Spring 2024

 

Satisfaction Survey - all customer groups

CSE Project Group

December 2023

 

Exit Survey - Medical Library

CX Group

November 2023

 

Exit Survey - McClay Library

CX Group

November 2023

 

Exit Survey - Biomedical Library

CX Group

April 2024

 

Exit Survey - McClay Library

CX Group

April 2024

 

 

 

 

 

Engagement Activity

 

 

 

Customer Journey Maps

CSE Project Group

Ongoing

 

Mystery Shopper / Usability Testing

CSE Project Group

Ongoing

 

UX activities

CSE Project Group

Ongoing

 

Induction talks and tours with new students

All

September 2023

 

Student training and communication

Subject Support Teams

Ongoing

 

Utilise Exit Survey tool as a means of getting feedback

CSE Project Group

Ongoing

 

Use of Social Media for all customer groups

All

Ongoing

 

 

 

 

 

Implementation Activity

 

 

 

Implement recommendations as a result of Customer Journey Maps/Mystery Shopper/UX

LLT

Ongoing

 

Implement recommendations from surveys

LLT

Ongoing

 

 

 

 

 

Reporting Activity

 

 

 

Annual Report/Review of Library Services 2022-23

Assistant Director

December 2023

 

"You said...we did" feedback on Customer Satisfaction Survey

Customer Satisfaction

Survey Group

May 2023

 

"You said...we did" feedback on surveys/UX/Focus Groups

CSE Project Group

Ongoing

 

Annual Report for AFBI

AFBI Librarian

June 2024

 

Annual Report for Department of Health

Medical Librarian

June 2024

 

SCONUL benchmarking statistics

LLT

January 2024

 

Library Standards of Service

CSE Coordinator

December 2023

 

Revised January 2024