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Strategy for Engaging and Consulting Customers


The Library Strategy for Engaging and Consulting Customers 2018-2021 follows on from the previous three year strategy document and outlines how the Library plans to engage with, and consult its customers over the next three year period.

The purpose of the Strategy is to:

  • Make the Library Services commitment to put 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 servi
  • 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 feedbac
  • Outline how and when we will review our Strateg
  • Present our Action Plan for 2020-21.

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 commitment to placing library users at the heart of our service and acting on their feedbac
  • A commitment to maintain high levels of satisfaction with our services and to work for continuous improv

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.

The Library reviews all the responses to such surveys and agrees suitable remedial action or further development activities as required.

  • Internal Library Surveys – each year the Library carries 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 Management Team each spring. Our intention is to cover all public services and customer groups on a reasonably regular Surveys carried out during 2018-19 included the Library’s Annual Customer Satisfaction Survey (all customer groups) and several more focused exit surveys. A survey measuring the impact of library services on specific customer groups (AFBI and HSC) also ran in February 2019. The survey process is constrained by our awareness of survey fatigue, especially among university students. 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.

The Library reviews all the responses to such surveys and agrees 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 are specific questions 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.

The Library reviews all the responses to such surveys and agrees 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 fo 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.

  • Students Union and Student Officers – the Library liaises directly with the Students’ Union via the Student President and other elected Student Officers. Relevant Library staff meet the Students’ Union Officers regularly as required and communicate directly on issues of concern and planned Library developments. Senior Library staff also meet Students’ Union officers and other student representatives at regular Academic Board meetings (where student representatives offer direct feedback to senior service managers across the University). The Library attends regular meetings of the Postgraduate Student Forum which are organised by the Graduate School.

All feedback received from Students’ Union Officers or Academic Board is reviewed and acted upon by the relevant service manager or is considered centrally.

During 2019-20, we will continue to build relationships with students by meeting the new Students’ Union Officers early in the academic year to encourage student feedback and facilitate service planning. The extension of the McClay Library is scheduled to be completed by September. The focus during the year ahead will be on working with students to make sure that the new spaces and policies around their use best meet their needs, and addressing any snagging issues which may arise.

  • A range of University Committees have regular input to the development of Library servi 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 - The Library offers a range of services under contract and each contracted group has a formal feedback mechani For example: the Healthcare Library Advisory Group offers formal Department of Health feedback on the contracted service offered to HSC employees, the AFBI Contract Monitoring Group and AFBI Library Committee input to the management of the AFBI Library and Library managers and technical staff from each of the hosted libraries meet with Queen’s 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 – the Library uses its suite of 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 A suite of 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 Library customers who identify themselves receive a personal response to their feedback.

  • Library Chat Service – From March 2020 (as a response to the physical closure of the library due to the Covid 19 pandemic) the library launched a new online chat service. This is now embedded into core library services and will be reviewed annually in terms of feedback from users and to inform service information requirements.
  • Social Media –  the  Library  makes  very  active  use  of  a  range  of  social  media  to communicate with current and potential customers and to receive their This includes an active Library blog, Facebook and Twitter sites. Library users and particularly students, regularly use informal mechanisms to give feedback.

All feedback received via the Library’s 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 - the Library convenes occasional focus groups to seek targeted feedback on a range of proposed service developmen Virtual focus groups are used where appropriate. This mechanism, while labour intensive and often challenging in terms of securing willing participants, 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 is used by the Library to actively engage with customers and find out how customers engage with different aspects of the The use of Customer Journey Maps is now embedded 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.

  • The Library uses 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.
  • UX – a number of library staff received training in User eXperience (UX) in early 2019. UX is a set of methods which can be used to uncover the needs, preferences and behaviours of customers, and as a result provide the opportunity to deliver more effective and relevant services. The Library is now developing plans to use UX to complement the existing methods of consultation to learn more about how customers experience (and feel about) library services and spaces.

Section 2: How the Library Feeds Back to its Customers

The Library has made the consultation of current and potential customers integral to continually improving our service and customer feedback is incorporated into the annual planning and improvement cycle in order to inform the library 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 the Library and each of its customer groups.

The following mechanisms are used on an ongoing basis:

  • Individually - the Library receives a huge amount of feedback from individual customers via e-mail, by phone and in person so a very significant amount of our feedback to customers is also made on an individual basi 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 summarised regularly and included in the Library Services Annual Report which is available on the Library website.
  • “You said, we did” - the Library uses this format on its Blog to feedback to customers on the outcome of significant consultation exercises.
  • Social Media – the Library uses social media (Twitter, Facebook and the Library Blog) regularly to feed back to customers. Facebook and the blog are accessed by a wide range of Library customers and potential customers while there are separate Twitter accounts aimed at students, and AFBI and HSC customers.
  • Standards of Service – Targets and performance data relating to our Standards of Service are published on the Library website and available to all Library customers and the wider group of visitors to the Library websi The achievement of many of the service standards will be promoted on the relevant sections of the library webpages.
  • Internal Reports – the Library provides formal feedback and presents reports to University committees such as Academic Board and University Operating Board (referred to above). Formal communication to Schools also takes place on a regular basis.
  • External Reports - the Library provides formal feedback and presents 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 Grou The libraries who have their library systems hosted under contract by the Library receive a bi-annual report on development activities.

Section 3: Reviewing and Evaluating our Strategy and Consultation/

                  Feedback Mechanisms

As well as reviewing the feedback received, the Library regularly reviews its strategies and seeks 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 Management 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 the Library is 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, including the blog.  

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 appraisal process
  • Task and Finish Group meetings
  • Feedback webpage
  • The University Staff Survey

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

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

  • The Library’s annual Customer Satisfaction Survey has allowed us to build up valuable data as well as providing a means of seeking feedb The survey is kept under review and adapted as required to ensure its ongoing accuracy and effectiveness.
  • Mechanisms such as the ongoing use of Mystery Shoppers will continue to be
  • We will explore new ways of engaging with our customers and potential customers, particularly the hard to reach or underrepresented
  • 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 Map
  • The Customer Service Excellence area on the Library website will be reviewed in terms of its effectiveness as a vehicle for customers and potential customers to comment, compliment or complai
  • We will hold focus groups and carry out surveys as part of the planning for new or improved services.
  • Carrying out an Impact Survey of HSC and AFBI customers and presenting results to the funders.
  • We will publish an Annual Report for Library Services.
  • We will record and analyse customer feedback on an annual basis and publish the actions taken as part of our Annual Report.

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 2020-21

 ActivityResponsibilityTarget Date 
Consultation Activity      
National Student Survey DASA Spring 2021  
Postgraduate Taught/Research Experience Survey DASA Spring 2021  
First Year Experience Survey DASA Spring 2021  
Second Year Experience Survey DASA Spring 2021  
Satisfaction Survey - all customer groups CSE Project Group March 2021  
Exit Survey - Medical Library BS Librarian - Medical August 2021  
Exit Survey - McClay Library BS Librarian - McClay November 2021  
Exit Survey - Biomedical Library BS Librarian - Biomedical February 2021  
Exit Survey - McClay Library BS Librarian - McClay April 2021  
Engagement Activity      
Customer Journey Map CSE project Group December 2020  
Mystery Shopper CSE Project Group March 2021  
UX CSE Project Group September 2020  
Meeting with new SU Officers CSE Coordinator September 2020  
Induction talks and tours with new students All September 2020  
Student training and communication Subject Support Teams Ongoing  
Covid 19 response survey Covid Comms Group January 2021  
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 LMT Ongoing  
Implement recommendations from surveys LMT Ongoing  
Reporting Activity      
Annual Report/Review of Library Services 2019-20 CSE Coordinator March 2021  
"You said...we did" feedback on Customer Satisfaction Survey Customer Satisfaction Survey Group May 2021  
"You said...we did" feedback on surveys/UX/Focus Groups CSE Project Group Ongoing  
Annual Report for AFBI AFBI Librarian June 2021  
Annual Report for Department of Health Medical Librarian June 2021  
SCONUL benchmarking statistics LMT January 2021  
Library Standards of Service CSE Coordinator January 2021  

Revised December 2020