Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Easy proactive chat for your LibraryH3lp-powered virtual service

Awhile back, we shared with you some ideas on how to add proactive chat to your web pages with custom JavaScript. Because there was so much interest and positive feedback from that post, we've rolled out integrated proactive chat invitations for your LibraryH3lp-powered service. No more need for custom JavaScript. Just dead simple point and click. Sound good? Let's do it!

Anatomy of a Proactive Invitation

Proactive chat invitations come in two basic flavors - a button dialog or an image dialog. For the image dialog, we offer a default "Chat now" image as well as several other choices. Alternatively, you can opt to use any image you'd like. And there are 24 different theme options available for your proactive invitation.

How To

The magic lives in the Services tab of the LibraryH3lp admin site.  You can add proactive chat invitations to any existing service snippet.  Proactive will include an invitation to chat in addition to your existing in-page option, leaving the in-page option unchanged.  If you've never used service snippets before, they replace the functionality of our old DIY-style code plus give you added flexibility to configure your virtual service on the fly without having to edit your web pages.

To add proactive chat to a service, click the Edit button and scroll down to the section labeled "Routing for incoming chats." Click the Proactive options tab and from there you'll be able to craft your own proactive service. The proactive invitation is timer-based. After a timed period that you control, a guest browsing your web page will see a chat invitation. Placement of the invitation within your web page is configurable.

Proactive and polite

So what happens when a guest declines your invitation? After all, you don't want to risk annoying the guest as they navigate your site with a recurring invitation on each page visit. No worries. For that, we have a cookie that remembers that the guest has declined your proactive invitation.

When you are testing your proactive invitation and need to trigger the dialog again, simply delete the "libraryh3lp-shhh" cookie and you're ready to go.

Note: Integrated proactive chat is not yet available on the LibraryH3lp Canadian regional server.  We'll update this post when released on that regional.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Webclient updates: conference room alerts, improved pinning workflow

This morning, we released a few new features in our webclient for staff.  Each of the new features is based upon feedback from you, so keep those suggestions coming!

Conference room notifications and alerts


Conference rooms now feature configurable sound notifications, desktop notifications, and alerts.

Conference room chat sounds and desktop notifications provide simple audio and visual notices of all new room messages. Every time someone sends a message, you'll hear your selected sound and see a desktop notification.

Conference room alert sounds provide a way to draw extra-special attention to a conference room message. Alerts can function like a "panic button," triggering a special sound and appearing as a bold message in the conference room. Need more help at a service desk? Sudden flurry of chats? Grab all your colleagues' attention with the Alert button or target a specific colleague by mentioning her username or nickname within your message to the room.

A conference room alert is ready to go out.

All sounds are configured independently in the Settings area. You can choose one sound for conference room messages, a second sound for conference room alerts, and a third sound for regular non-conference room chats.  You can also opt out of any or all sound notifications entirely.  For example, you may find a sound on each conference room message excessive but still opt into conference room alert sounds, so that you'll be notified when one of your colleagues needs help urgently.

Improved multi-chat workflow: proactive pinning for new chats


If the main chat workspace is occupied, new incoming chats are automatically pinned to the right sidebar.  Up to three chats will be auto-pinned.  Any additional new chats will be minimized in buddy list, with the red "new" badge.

Four active chats in view: one in main workspace and three pinned.  Conference room is minimized.

Three active chats: one in main workspace and two pinned.  Conference room is also active.



Thursday, August 7, 2014

Conference rooms for the LibraryH3lp webclient

Today we released a conference room integration for the native LibraryH3lp webclient on the US, Europe, and Singapore regional servers. The Canadian server will be updated soon. Conference rooms are password-protected and are a great place for collaboration, coordination, and brainstorming among colleagues.

The conference room area sits at the bottom of the webclient for staff.  It can be
minimized or resized to suit your current layout needs.


Using the Conference Rooms tab in the LibraryH3lp admin site, administrators can create rooms for staff. When an administrator assigns you to a conference room, you'll see that room appear in the bottom pane of the LibraryH3lp webclient after login. Each room shows a list of participants, the conference room transcript, and the room's current topic.

If you use an external client that supports XMPP multi-user chat to staff LibraryH3lp (both Pidgin and Adium do), your administrator can provide you with the credentials necessary to access the room.

Give it a whirl and let us know what you think! And of course, this awesome new feature is included at no extra charge with every LibraryH3lp subscription and trial.

Update: Conference rooms now have flexible alerting features!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Improved Activity for monitoring and reviewing chats

We've packed all sorts of exciting new features into the revamped webclient for staffing, which is now out of the beta phase: canned messages, instant access to staffing info, and geocoding. And now we've also updated the Activity tab, available in both the revamped webclient and admin site. The main US server and Canadian regional server already have this update; the Europe and Singapore regional servers will receive the update soon.

Managing a chat
Following an active chat and hovering over the transfer button.

Chat management has a new look and feel with all the old goodness still intact. Click any chat to see its transcript (if you opt to store them).  You can pop any chat out into its own window/tab, e-mail the transcript, tag for followup, or block an unruly guest for 24 hours.

And for active chats, you can do even more!  Refresh transcript to follow the conversation, which comes in very handy for assisting colleagues with challenging sessions.  You can also intervene in an active chat by transferring it to a different operator or queue or by sending a file such as a hard-to-locate PDF.


Managing chats in bulk

Personalize your grid. Choose which columns you want to see.  Don't use profiles?  You can hide that column from view entirely. Drag and drop the columns to order them the way you want. Grab the column separator to change the width of the column.

Selecting metadata columns to display.

Slice and dice your data. Filter by one or more criteria. If you are working with lots of chats, multiple filters are great for finding the needle in the haystack. Click a column's header to sort the table's data by that column; click again to reverse the sort. View timestamps in your timezone and in either 12 or 24 hour formats.

Chats are filtered by queue and then sorted by duration.
Preparing a filter which will remove chats with our Ron Swanson bot from view.

Your customizations to the default settings will automatically persist between logins and across browsers.

Plus, you can download the tabular metadata in CSV format, download transcripts in ZIP format, anonymize, delete transcripts, or entirely delete the record of chats.  Transcript zip files are available in XML and HTML formats in addition to the original text format. Use the checkboxes to act on a subset of chats. If no chats are selected, all chats are assumed.


Navigating through space and time

The controls at the top of the Activity page help you navigate through time and view chats over a specific date or date range.  Single day navigation is easy using the left-most controls.

Preparing to display chats from Jan 1, 2014 through June 3, 2014.

The Calendar button opens a monthly view.  Click the year at the top of the monthly view to change to a yearly view. The calendar view shows total number of chats per day, and you can select chats by single day or by date range. Ranges can be selected by clicking the first and last days on the calendar or by providing a start and end date. After selecting a date range, you'll be returned to the tabular view now populated with chats from the desired date range.

So there you have it! A whirlwind tour of the new Activity page. Give it a try and let us know what you think.


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Typing timesaver: Canned messages are here.

The revamped webclient for staffing is now out of the beta stage. Our latest update folds in all the feedback from the beta stage and brings with it an important and highly anticipated new feature: canned (pre-scripted) messages!

Type-ahead canned messages in the webclient for staffing.


How it works


Administrators create shared groups (pools) of canned messages and assign operators to them using the new Messages tab in the admin site.  Those messages are available to designated operators through our new web staffing client.

The messages are easy to use and show up as type-ahead suggestions when composing replies to guests during a chat. Individual operators can browse their assigned shared messages and optionally create their own private messages via the Messages tab in the webclient.  If desired, operators can also opt out of canned messages in their Settings.

Into the pool!

Canned message pool management in the admin site.

A single set of shared canned messages available to all staff might be all you need. But since LibraryH3lp can be used across departments and even beyond libraries, different groups of operators might benefit from different pools of shared messages.  For example, someone in Admissions will probably need access to a different message pool than a librarian.

Flexibility is the name of the game. Administrators can set up unlimited pools of messages and then assign operators to one or more of these message pools.

Give it a whirl and let us know what you think!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

More webclient beta improvements... thanks to your feedback

A little over a month ago, we released a completely revamped webclient for staffing as a beta. It continues to be a big hit and it's getting better every week thanks to your feedback. We've already made one round of improvements on our main US server (regionals will get this update by next week) and wanted to share the latest enhancements.

Chats page

  • Hover over a queue's availability dot icon to see who's currently staffing and their status. You'll also be able to see the number of active chats and text messaging number for queues with an SMS gateway.
  • Compact or chat bubble view of main chat area controlled via Settings.
  • Geocoding! Guest IP addresses are links so you can quickly see where your guest is located.
  • Tag for follow-up shows you where the follow-up e-mails will be sent. 


Activity page

  • Clicking a chat gives access to full chat management functionality including transfer, send file, e-mail transcript, tag for followup, and block.
Tagging a chat for followup via Activity

  • Columns in the activity page are sortable and filterable.
Filter referring URLs to show only those containing "blog."
  • Calendar view allows for ranges by clicking on days or start/end date inputs. The start/end inputs are particularly handy for specifying ranges that span months or years.

A big thank you to everyone who provided feedback. Please keep your suggestions coming! Haven't had a chance to try it yet? Give it a spin - Main US serverCanadian serverEuropean serverSingapore server

Monday, April 14, 2014

Get proactive with your virtual reference

Update December 11, 2014: We've made proactive chat invitations easier than ever; take a look at our newer blog post for the details.

You've probably been on a website that not only includes a chat option on the page but also proactively invites you to chat after you've spent some time on the page. Love it or hate it, this technique can increase patron engagement (Zhang and Mayer, 2014). We've created a guide for anyone interested in exploring the technique with patrons on their website.

Broken down, the three main components are:
  1. A presence (availability) check to make sure that your chat queue is online before prompting the user to chat.  After all, we don't want to risk annoying the user if we're not online to help.
  2. A timer to control the amount of time that will elapse before the chat invitation is presented. Zhang and Mayer's paper reports success using three minutes - substantially longer than many commercial websites.
  3. A graphical dialog to control the appearance of the chat invitation.  This part can be heavily customized, and we've made three different styles for starting places.

Three examples, from left to right:
floating embedded widget, custom "chat now" button image, "click to chat" dialog box button.

Want to give it a spin? Start with the examples on our documentation page. You'll find heavily commented code that you can tweak and extend to suit your own purposes. We've even cooked up some working demo pages so that you can try it out. The chat widget on these pages connects to a simple bot that replies with Ron Swanson quotes so that it will always be online for testing.

Head over to the admin site, Services tab.  When editing any service level, look for the Proactive tab, and you'll be able to craft your own proactive service without any additional hand coding.  Everything will be handled in the standard LibraryH3lp code snippet.