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Friday, February 14, 2014

Are you doing enough for mobile patrons?

Smartphones are rarely beyond an arm's reach these days and frequently in-hand. Though living in the US National Radio Quiet Zone has made me the exception, even I carry a smartphone away from home. There's an app for everything and a browser available when an app isn't. So patrons all but expect the library to be available at the touch of a finger. How do you provide virtual reference services for patrons on the go? Are you doing enough?

There are 3 key areas for mobile - texting, apps, and browsers. Provide service in all three areas and you'll maximize your virtual reference coverage.

Text messaging

Can patrons text their reference questions to your library? Text messaging is a huge part of mobile and also a big contributor to the well-toned thumb muscles of our youth today. Texting can, in a few finger strokes, do for patrons what it may take several clicks (read: tens of seconds) to do on a website. Integrate texting with your reference desk's voice number to maximize your availability in a patron's contact list.

LibraryH3lp's SMS add-on will make you look like a text messaging superstar. Incoming text messages appear just like any other chat and can be transferred between librarians. Voice calls are forwarded to your reference desk and after-hours texts are automatically delivered when you are next online. And as an extra bonus, it integrates nicely with Google Voice SMS.

Include real-time chat in your library app

Like texting, chat inside apps provide a handy way to exchange messages in just a few touch strokes. Maybe your library has a custom app created with a platform like Boopsie for Libraries? LibraryH3lp is Boopsie-compatible and our mobile-optimized chat widgets can be inserted anywhere you can place HTML. Speaking of mobile widgets... Let's talk browsers.

Chat & self services for mobile browsers

Rounding out the trifecta of mobile virtual reference coverage is the browser. So you've gone through all the trouble to create a super schnazzy responsive library website. Drawing "ohhs" and "ahhs" from all who visit. Let's add an extra layer of icing, shall we? A sexy, mobile-optimized chat widget and searchable knowledge base will be sure to turn a few heads.

An embedded widget (inserted into the content of a web page) is dandy for patrons using a desktop or laptop. But a smartphone? Not so much. Even sharp eyes have trouble seeing something that small. Not to mention that accessibility and usability is an ever-present concern. Add a customized pop-up or follow-me chat widget to your website and LibraryH3lp will auto-magically transform it into a mobile-optimized, real estate maximizing version for iOS and Android users. 

But don't stop with chat. Complement your interactive services with self services like a knowledge base/FAQ. With FAQs, help is always available even after hours. Each LibraryH3lp subscription includes unlimited individual FAQs and questions and comes preloaded with a built-in mobile-specific interface for smart phones. (See it in action with our FAQ.)

So let patrons choose their favorite mobile tool. With LibraryH3lp, you'll be ready and waiting whether it be texting, apps, or browser. Contact us at if you need any help configuring your mobile services or are interested in a no risk trial of our SMS add-on.


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