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 books are reaching the due date, when their reserved books are available for collection and when their books 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 Communication
We communicate with our customers through a variety of appropriate channels and mechanisms, in ways which meet individual needs and preferences. These currently include:
|General library webpages||Service points|
|Guides, leaflets, flyers||Surveys|
|Induction sessions||Telephone calls|
|Library Committee meetings||Training sessions|
|Library news items|
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 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.
- encouraging 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 strategic documents that may impact on our Communication Policy on an annual basis, for example our Twitter Strategy (Appendix 1).
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.
- regularly reviewing and updating 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|
|AFBI Intranet||web||yes||one||system||news about resources and events|
|electronic||yes||yes||two||manually||reliably reaching individuals or groups|
|General Library webpages||web||yes||two||system||Library services and contact details|
|Guides, leaflets, flyers||yes||one||manually||subject, database and services information|
|Induction sessions||In-person||yes||two||manually||providing orientation and help and advice|
|Library Committee meetings||In-person||yes||two||n/a||presenting Library updates and eliciting feedback|
|Library news items||web||yes||two||system||news about resources and events|
|Plasma screens||electronic||yes||one||n/a||current information|
|Service points||In-person||yes||two||manually||providing help and advice|
|Telephone calls||In-person||yes||two||manually||providing help and advice|
|Training sessions||In-person||yes||yes||two||manually||giving instruction|
|Social media||yes||yes||two||system||brief updates, urgent messages|
Appendix 1 - AFBI Library Twitter Strategy
The purpose of this document to record how AFBI Library utilises Twitter to promote its services and resources to customers.
In February 2017, AFBI Library began to utilise Twitter as a social media platform via the following account: https://twitter.com/AFBILibrary. The main reason for adopting social media (via Twitter) as a communication tool was to:
- Inform customers about news and developments
- Promote services and resources
- Assist customers in using the Library
- Gather feedback about library services
- Engage with customers, particularly within the AFBI community.
Social media is particularly effective for these purposes because AFBI itself has a strong Twitter presence (@AFBI_NI) and many AFBI staff already have Twitter accounts. In addition, by developing a Twitter presence, AFBI Library staff are empowered to develop social media skills, follow emerging trends in library and information management and to enhance creative skills via online graphics packages such as Canva.
The main metrics that twitter collates include total followers (the number of people that follow the Library’s account), tweet impressions, profile visits and mentions. These metrics are the key way for AFBI Library to measure the effectiveness of tweets and their content.
In accordance with Queens’ University best practice and to align its social media approach with other QUB Libraries, the 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 library.
In order to do this, the group have created a persona passport (appendix 1) that guides all activity and provides a consistent approach to social media communication. Following a discussion, the persona reflects the attributes with which the AFBI Library wishes to communicate our objectives and personifies the desired communication style for the group to draw on.
The persona chosen (Alice Roberts) acts as a reference point that all members of staff can readily connect with. When creating content or managing conversations the question that the social media group will always ask themselves will be what would our persona do/ say?
The communication style adopted by staff when they post messages varies according to the service and the subject.
The group has undertaken a collaborative mind-mapping exercise to inspire and support content creation. The resulting mind maps identify topics that match our persona and can help us achieve our objectives. When creating content the group consult the mind maps for suitable topics. Please refer to appendix 2 for the mind maps. Group development of the mind maps is ongoing so that more topics may be added and there is group consensus on suitable content.
A number of steps have been taken to integrate social media with the Library’s other forms of communication:
- Use of mind maps to integrate content with our services
- Tweets from AFBI Library’s Twitter account link directly to AFBI Library’s LibAnswers pages
- Induction documentation for new library users includes details about the AFBI Library’s Twitter account.
- Tweets from the AFBI Library account can direct users quickly and seamlessly to surveys via questback
- Social media buttons in the AFBI Library EDS enable patrons to share information about the Library’s books, journals and other content.
All members of the AFBI Library team post on Twitter. The responsibility for managing the twitter account is shared between the Newforge and Stormont Libraries on a weekly, rotating basis.
- In order to post at peak times, automated tweets, using TweetDeck (https://tweetdeck.twitter.com/) are deployed on a regular basis.
- Members of the group manage the service during weekdays from 9.00am until 5.00pm.
- Any queries about posting or responding to comments are discussed informally via the group.