Thursday, March 14, 2013

FAQs on FAQs: chat and e-mail integrations

Hi all! Lots of you are getting FAQ sites going. Adding questions. Customizing. Branding. We are really impressed by all the creativity!

To help everyone get the most out of their FAQ site (or sites - plural - you get unlimited FAQs at no additional charge with every LibraryH3lp account), we'll blog regularly in the coming weeks about FAQ-related topics - including HTML, CSS, and quite possibly some JavaScript. We're calling the series FAQs on FAQs and hope you will find it a useful source of information and inspiration.

Today's installment covers the automagic chat and e-mail integrations within your FAQ site. Let's go!

Each FAQ site is associated with a queue and an e-mail address, making it easier for patrons to find answers using three communication methods. The FAQs cover pre-canned commonly asked questions. Chat gives patrons real-time access to librarians. E-mail lets patrons ask questions when your virtual reference service is unavailable or if they aren't interested in using chat.

The automagicness happens in two key areas within your FAQ site - the "Ask Us" button and the "Not finding what you need? Contact us!" link at the bottom of every page  Both of these elements know when your queue is available, showing chat when virtual reference is available and an e-mail contact form otherwise. No fancy programming needed on your end. It just works.

A third area, the right sidebar, includes separate links for "Real-time chat" and e-mail.  This way patrons can see at a glance whether or not the chat service is online. And they can always opt to email instead of chat.  The "Real-time chat" link can be customized any way you'd like, and it is not clickable when the chat service is offline.

Want more than just a patron's name, e-mail address, and question when patrons use the e-mail form? Sure! Edit the email.html template and add any additional HTML form field you'd like.

Have any suggestions for the FAQs on FAQs series? Want to get your own FAQ site set up? E-mail support and we'll make it happen. :-)

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