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Strategy for Engaging and Consulting Customers


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 2022-23.

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 feedback.
  • A commitment to maintain high levels of satisfaction with our services and to work for continuous improvement.

This strategy is set within the context of the work of the newly formed 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 2021-22 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 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.

  • 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 have set up a Student Library Partnership Group allowing us to work in partnership with student representatives on the development of library services. 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. We attend meetings of the Postgraduate Student Forum which are organised by the Graduate School.

    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 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 – we provide a range of library services under contract and each contracted group has a formal feedback mechani 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.

  • Library Chat Service – The service launched in March 2020, as a response to the physical closure of the library due to the Covid 19 pandemic, is now embedded into core library services and is reviewed annually in terms of feedback from users and to inform service requirements.
  • Social Media – we make very active use of a range of social media to communicate with current and potential customers and to receive their This includes having Instagram, Facebook and Twitter sites. Library users 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 developmen 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 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.
  • UX – we use UX 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 websi 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 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 feedb 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 2022-23

 Activity Responsibility Target Date  
Consultation Activity      
National Student Survey DASA Spring 2023  
Postgraduate Taught/Research Experience Survey DASA Spring 2023  
First Year Experience Survey DASA Spring 2023  
Second Year Experience Survey DASA Spring 2023  
Satisfaction Survey - all customer groups CSE Project Group March 2023  
Exit Survey - Medical Library BS Librarian - Medical June 2023  
Exit Survey - McClay Library BS Librarian - McClay June 2023  
Exit Survey - Biomedical Library BS Librarian - Biomedical February 2023  
Exit Survey - McClay Library BS Librarian - McClay April 2023  
Engagement Activity      
Customer Journey Map CSE project Group March 2023  
Mystery Shopper / usability testing CSE Project Group March 2023  
UX activities CSE Project Group May 2023  
Meeting with Library Student Staff Partnership Group CSE Coordinator and Assistant Director January 2023  
Induction talks and tours with new students All September 2022  
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 2021-22 Assistant Director December 2022  
"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 2023  
Annual Report for Department of Health Medical Librarian June 2023  
SCONUL benchmarking statistics LLT January 2023  
Library Standards of Service CSE Coordinator December 2022  

Revised September 2022