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Casey Cardinia Libraries (CCL) in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs offers a number of community services while running on an annual high-school budget. As one of the largest library services (by population) in Australia, their members make up nearly one-third of the population of the City of Casey and Cardinia Shire regions.
Every year nearly 1.3 million people walk into one of the libraries, most looking to use their wifi-service, attend community events, utilize a plethora of digital resources, and/or borrow books. However, after the pandemic took full effect, the library had to pivot to an online service model. To ensure that members continued to benefit from the libraries in the lockdown, CCL adopted Freshchat. Daniel Lewis, General Manager of Digital Operations, walked us through the thought process behind implementing chat and shared their plans going into 2021.
CCL has been a long time user of Freshservice, Freshworks’ ITSM platform, for their internal IT ticket management. But this tool was not extended to members to provide support. Library members could either get their queries resolved over the counter or on the phone. Daniel’s team was pursuing an idea where they could limit the hand-holding required in providing information face-to-face or via calls. Both these services were long-drawn and harder to triage as calls could last up to 48 minutes and face to face interactions could not be easily measured. The digital operations team wanted a tool that was purely external to offer systematic Information-as-a-Service (IaaS).
To the team, offering live chat as their IaaS tool seemed like the logical next step. But, the need wasn’t immediate. In March 2020, with COVID-19 lockdowns forthcoming, Daniel quickly moved forward on a chat implementation. For CCL, the wake of the pandemic removed tech barriers as members started practicing social distancing. They could now make a strong case for chat implementation. And rightly upon adoption, CCL instantly saw a big influx on chat.
Casey Cardinia Library offering live chat in their 'Library at home' service during lockdowns in 2020.
Freshchat has fit perfectly into CCL’s current ecosystem. After moving to a digital model, the agents saved time by sharing information about the library service and their ‘Library-At-Home’ initiative through chat.
How CCL offers Information-as-a-Service on chat.
The customer reaches out looking for information on a book or an event
Agent offers responses using canned responses or books librarians to answer questions
Information Service Officers oversee the conversation and manage chats
Daniel said, “The agents use Freshchat as a point of reference to gather context before starting the actual resolution. [And,] I think when you're providing information-as-a-Service context is king. You know, you could give them an answer to the wrong concept. Freshchat has actually enabled us to be more effective than any face to face interaction or phone call.”
To provide quick answers, the team uses the Canned Responses feature, and when out-of-office, they use the Business Hours feature to collect queries which they will then answer during their working hours.
Given that chat was implemented as a replacement for in-person interactions, once the lockdowns relaxed more people chose to have face-to-face conversations. To continue to offer the best customer experience, Daniel’s team took a Just-In-Time approach to give answers. Each answer is offered based on where the customer wants it rather than a Just-In-Case approach which would offer particular answers only through chat. However, with limits on the number of people who can work and visit the library, there was still heavy dependence on digital information.
For CCL, to reach a balance, Daniel highlights that there needs to be a fundamental shift in the mindsets of people to choose technology for answers. Currently, to create a balance between the walk-ins and chat requests, Daniel’s team is counting on offering hybrid solutions.
In the foreseeable future with lenient lockdowns, Daniel’s team will continue to offer information via chat, phone as well as face-to-face. The team is working on a plan that would promote chat further as their go-to informational service.
Daniel is looking forward to using the social media integrations to unify all chat communications with Freshchat. The team is also working with the library’s marketing team to create campaigns through chat. For this, the team will leverage the Campaigns feature to set up triggered messages that will invite members to converse over chat. And in the future, they would also like to have a bot integration that would further improve their Information-as-a-Service offering.
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