Effective communication is essential in order to provide good customer service and to fulfil the standards of service set by the Library. This communication policy aims to outline our commitment to effective communication by documenting the ways in which we communicate with our customers, our communication objectives and our on-going endeavour to listen to and respond to our customers through active consultation and feedback.
1. Communication Purpose
We provide our customers with a range of information. Broadly speaking our communication approaches fall under the following categories:
- To inform: we provide transparent information to our customers about our services (e.g. opening hours, loan entitlements), our policies (e.g. fines policy) and our procedures (e.g. ILL procedures).
- To notify: we provide our customers with notification reminders when their reserved books are available for collection and when their books have been recalled or are overdue.
- To respond: we respond to queries we receive from customers face-to-face, by email and via social media outlets.
- To consult and cross refer strategy for involving and communicating with customers.
2. Methods of Communcation
We communicate with our customers through a variety of appropriate channels and mechanisms, in ways which meet individual needs and preferences. These currently include:
|Library Chat||Pop-up Libraries||Training Sessions|
|Library Guides||Screensavers||Transaction Desks|
|Guides, leaflets, flyers||Library Help||Surveys|
|Library News||Telephone Calls||YouTube|
|Letters||Library Webpages||Text Messaging|
|Liaison Meetings||Plasma Screens||Tours|
These methods will be reviewed regularly and advances in communication technology will be adapted where appropriate.
3. Communication Principles
To ensure effective communication with our customers, we aim to embody the following principles:
- Our communication will be clear and concise in order to deliver our message succinctly.
- We aim to use plain English and develop an acceptable glossary of Library terms so our communication is easily understandable.
- We will deliver timely communication that is relevant to the user at their point of need and ensure that agreed standards of service are met
- We will reply promptly to all customer queries, ensuring that agreed standards of service are met
- We will adopt a flexible communication approach, delivering our messages in a variety of ways that meet customer needs and preferences.
- We endeavour to standardise our communication where possible in order to ensure customer clarity by creating templates for letters and emails.
4. Internal Communication
To deliver effective communication to our customers, we must ensure that our internal communication is effective. We will do this by:
- setting an Out of Office email to alert colleagues to our absence from work.
- recording an appropriate voicemail to allow colleagues to leave a message and also to redirect colleagues to an alternative colleague/department if we are unavailable
- encourage staff to offer feedback on our communication methods and information provision
5. Policy Evaluation
Our Communication Policy will be kept up to date with an annual review.
We will also review any of our policies that impact on our Communication Policy, for example our Social Media Policy and the Website Development Strategydetailed below.
6. Evaluating our Communication
In order to ensure the effectiveness of our communication, we will regularly evaluate our communication approach by:
- seeking regular customer feedback (both formal and informal) on our communication and information provision
- listening to and responding to user suggestions regarding our communication and information provision
- making changes to our communication methods or principles where necessary -reviewing and updating our Communication Policy accordingly
- reviewing and updating our Communication Policy accordingly
- regularly review and update all information content to ensure accuracy and currency
- gather and analyse statistics regarding the usage of our communication channels where possible. We will use these statistics to inform our policy and decision making regarding communication and information provision in the Library (table 1 summarises the channels and media we currently use to communicate with our users and, where possible, how we can gather evidence of use)
|Medium||Channel||One to one||One to many||One-or two-way||How measured?||Mainly used for|
|electronic||yes||yes||two||manually||reliably reaching individuals or groups|
|social media||yes||yes||two||system||news and updates|
|guides, leaflets, flyers||yes||one||manually||subject, database and service information|
|social media||yes||yes||two||system||news and updates|
|liaison meetings||in person||yes||two||n/a||presenting library updates|
|library chat||web||yes||two||system||providing help and advice|
|library guides||web||yes||two||system||subject specific information|
|library help||web||yes||two||system||faq and queries|
|libary news||web||yes||two||system||news about resources and events|
|library webpages||web||yes||two||system||library services and contact details|
|plasma screens||electronic||yes||one||n/a||current events and statuses|
|pop-up library||in person||yes||two||manually||providing help and advice|
|screensavers||electronic||yes||one||system||current events and statuses|
|telephone calls||in person||yes||two||manually||providing help and advice|
|text messaging||electronic||yes||yes||one||system||reaching individuals or groups|
|tours||in person||yes||yes||two||manually||providing orientation|
|training sessions||in person||yes||yes||two||manually||giving instruction|
|transaction desks||in person||yes||two||manually||providing help and advice|
|social media||yes||yes||two||system||brief updates, urgent messages|
IS Social Media Group – Social Media Strategy
The purpose of this document to record how social media is being exploited by Information Services. It does not include information on the legal and acceptable use aspects of social media because there are institutional guides and policies on these issues.
The Information Services Directorate uses the following technologies:
- Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/QUBLibrary
- Google Places - http://goo.gl/maps/M6AHd
- Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/qublibrary/
- Library News - https://www.qub.ac.uk/directorates/InformationServices/TheLibrary/News/
- Twitter - https://twitter.com/QUBLibrary
- YouTube - http://www.youtube.com/user/QUBLibrary
They are administered by the Social Media Group which consists of:
- Alex McIlroy (Chair)
- Sally Bridge
- Christine Carrothers
- Gillian Laverty
- Kriss Leslie
- Claire McCartan
- Barry McKinney
- Conor O’Doherty
- Johnny Shongo
- Kath Stevenson
The main reason for adopting social media is as a communication tool to:
- Inform customers about news and developments
- Promote services and resources
- Assist customers in using the Library
- Gather feedback about Information Services
- Engage with customers
The Social Media Group has adopted a persona to ensure that they communicate in a consistent manner, thus building up trust with customers and establishing a solid personality for the directorate.
The communication style adopted by staff when they post messages varies according to the service and the subject. For example, an informal style is appropriate when wishing students luck in their exams but a more serious tone is required when conveying information about library fines.
The Social Media Group has developed a calendar of events and topics and this calendar drives the campaigns throughout the year. The calendar also acts a reference point for the following years, so the Social Media Group is prepared well in advance to post about annual events, campaigns and themes. To maintain a corporate approach, for topics other than those agreed, the Social Media Group follows the lead of the University’s main social media account.
A number of steps have been taken to integrate social media with other forms of communication within Information Services:
- Details about the Information Services social media accounts can be added to individual email signatures
- Tweets from the Information Services Twitter account can be set to automatically feed into individual LibGuides pages
- Induction documentation for new students includes details about the Library’s Twitter and Facebook accounts
- Social media buttons are included on the Library homepage under the banner of ‘Connect with @QUBLibrary’
- Social media buttons in the Library catalogue enable patrons to share information about the Library’s books, journals and other content.
A large group of staff is required to ensure that core areas of the Information Services Directorate are represented and that the accounts are covered during core hours. Members of the Social Media Group manage the service during the day. Comments coming through during evening hours or over the weekend are picked up when the service is next managed (Mon – Fri 9am – 5pm).
All members of the Social Media Group post on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Posts can be scheduled using Hootsuite Pro. Requests for posts are also filtered to the Social Media Group from the various Task and Finish Groups / Project Groups and Standing Groups operating within the Information Services directorate.
Any queries about posting or responding to comments can be discussed by the Social Media Group.
The Social Media Group is able to retrieve metrics about the various social media accounts, and individual posts / campaigns as and when requested.
Website Development Strategy
The Library website is an important means of communicating to our wide ranging readership whereby a customer can and should be able to answer any question they might have concerning the services and resources provided by the Library as a whole. Any customer should be able to navigate the pages easily and quickly without unnecessary distractions or blocks.
To this end the Website Development Strategy covers the following areas:
General Website Content
The content of the site, while considering CMS template restrictions, will cover the full range of services, e.g.:
- Library catalogue including links to all electronic resources and with clear instructions on the various services associated with it
- The various libraries and collections included within QUB Library
- The purpose of the differing libraries and their locations
- Circulation services including borrowing, reserving, fines, short loans, interbranch services, interlibrary loan services
- Disability services
- Help and advice
- Contact details of relevant staff and service areas complete with individual expertise
- Research support details and contacts
- Library guides to all and every aspect of the Library service
- Feedback options
- Access to the Library’s Standards and expectations of service
- News & updates
- Access to their accounts for the Library’s registered readers and the capacity for them to manage their accounts
- Comprehensive ‘Frequently asked Questions’ with links to support the answers
The website is dynamic, reliable and secure, offering an enjoyable visit to our readers with a seamless experience.
The character of the website encourages use by both our registered and potential readers and any such interested party who wishes to understand any part of the Library service. To this end the site uses Plain English and strives to be clear and concise in its approach. Content is provided in such a way that the meaning is clear to all and access to further information is available in an obvious manner.
Fonts and spacing are consistent and in the main regulated.
Items reported for updates by colleagues or following feedback from customers will be actioned within 5 working days.
Links will be monitored regularly and repaired or removed within 5 working days.
Warnings will be given, as best as possible, when planned maintenance and downtime occurs.
The upkeep of the site and all content will be reviewed on a regular basis throughout the year.
The website, while relevant to the present time, is also flexible and can be easily amended and updated. New technologies can also be incorporated where appropriate. Technology advances at a great rate and the Library is prepared for this and set to react speedily to these changes.
Reviewed March 2021