Service Quality in Cooperative Virtual Reference: A Local Perspective


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This presentation addresses service quality issues experienced in Research Help Now, an academic virtual reference cooperative service in Michigan. Includes examples and tips for improving service quality in the virtual learning environment.

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Service Quality in Cooperative Virtual Reference: A Local Perspective

  1. 1. Service Quality inCooperative Virtual Reference: A Local Perspective Christine Tobias RHN Quality Assurance Committee Research Help Now Annual Meeting April 13, 2012
  2. 2. Policy Pages• QP’s #1 Quality Control Issue• Highlights institution-specific information to help other librarians answer your patrons’ questions.• Keep up to date with current information and active hyperlinks.• Use QP’s web form to suggest content for another library’s Policy Page.
  3. 3. Use QuestionPoint’s web form to suggest content for another library’s Policies Page.
  4. 4. Example #1: I Don’t Work for Your Library/Have Access to YourResources…So I Can’t Help You! Sorry! Suggestions to improve the quality of this session: • Reference interview: Which book would you like to check out? I’ll see if it’s available. • Policy Page/Library Website: Let me see if there is a phone number I can call to get an answer to your question.
  5. 5. Example #2: Providing Articles vs. Providing InstructionPatron: I need help finding a peer reviewed article on the taxon ctenophora orthe species comb jelliesLibrarian 1: Hi, Im ***, a librarian at the ***. Your library and my library arepart of a nationwide cooperative of libraries that staff this service. Im readingyour question now.Librarian 1: I just sent two articles to your e-mail. Are these OK?Patron: Thanks Im checking them nowPatron: Yes one of these will work thank you… Section 3.3 of the Cooperative Policies and Procedures: The goal in assisting academic students is not to give them a quick answer, but rather to assist them in using the resources available at their library so that they can do the research themselves. To best help academic students, start with the resources available to the students from their own library, as set out in the library’s policy page.
  6. 6. Example #3: Follow Up by Patron’s Library vs. Answered
  7. 7. Resolution Codes Flow Chart
  8. 8. Example 4: Follow Up by Me vs. Follow Up by Patron’s Library Follow Up by Patron’s Library: Use for questions from OTHER institutions that need additional information. Follow Up by Me: Use only for questions from YOUR institution in which YOU plan to provide additional information.
  9. 9. Other Reported Service Quality Issues• Adding Descriptive Codes to other libraries’ sessions • “Since each library has its own understanding and use of the codes, please refrain from assigning any descriptive code to a session from another library.” • “Descriptive Codes vs. Resolution Codes” – QuestionPoint: 24/7 Reference Services Blog (• Confirming patron’s institution and affiliation (i.e. – student, faculty, staff, retiree) and using the patron’s library’s resources to answer the question.• Referring to databases as they are listed on the library’s website or on Policy Page (i.e. – ProQuest, ProQuest Research Library)
  10. 10. Other Reported Service Quality Issues• Not waiting at least 5 minutes before ending session with unresponsive patron • Section 4.4.2 – “Patron Becomes Non-Responsive” - 24/7 Policies Wiki (• Discerning difference between Patron Note and Librarian Note • Patron Note: Sends a direct message to the patron. This should not include information meant only for another librarian or comments that may undermine the patron’s library’s credibility. • Librarian Note: Sends a private message between librarians. Patron does not see the message.• Thanking patron for using “our chat reference service” in closing script • Due to the variety of service names in RHN and the 24/7 Cooperative, it is best to refer to the virtual reference service in generic terms.
  11. 11. Damage ControlNegative Surveys:• Respond promptly to smooth things over with your patron whenever you receive negative feedback on a survey.Quality Control Issues with RHN Librarians:• Send an email explanation with a copy of the transcript to the RHN Librarian’s VR Manager. VR Manager and RHN Service Quality Committee will respond to the RHN Librarian as appropriate.• Refrain from reporting RHN Librarians to QP Quality Control unless the issue cannot be resolved otherwise.Report Question to QP Quality Control:• Click on Question in Active Questions List.• Click on the Refer To drop down menu.• Select Subject Matter Expert and click on the gray arrow button.• Select Quality Subject Expert in the drop-down menu.• Describe the quality control issue in the Reason for Referral box.• Click on either Refer button to send the question to QP Quality Control.
  12. 12. Setting A Good Example
  13. 13. Interested in serving on the RHN Quality Assurance Committee? Christine Tobias 517-884-0897