How to chat with patrons (using individual or multi-chat overlay mode)

Claiming a new chat

When a patron submits a chat from a widget connected to a department you're monitoring, you'll receive a notification and see the new chat appear under the Chats tab. To reply to the patron, you must first claim the chat. There are a couple of ways you can do this:

Quickly claiming a chat

The quickest way to claim a chat is by clicking on its Claim Chat button under the Patron Chats list. This will launch the chat pane where you can start chatting with the patron.

The Claim Chat button under the Patron Chats list

Preview the question before claiming

  1. Under Patron Chats, click on the patron's name to view the chat details.
  2. ​Click on the Claim this Chat button.
    • If the chat has already been claimed, this button will not appear.
    • Instead, you'll see the name of the staff member chatting with that patron.

The Claim this Chat button in the chat pane


Viewing the patron's information and history

  1. While viewing the chat, click on the Patron Information tab.
    1. To add or edit the patron's name, make your changes to the Name field and click its Update button.
    2. To add or edit the patron's email address or SMS number, make your changes to the Contact Info field and click its Update button.
    3. Below the Contact Info field, you'll find information gathered from the chat widget the patron is using.
    4. Under Previous Chats with Patron, you'll find a list of chats matching the contact info provided by the patron. Click on any question to view the transcript.
    5. Under Previous Tickets with this Patron, you'll find a list of chats matching the contact info provided by the patron. Click on any question to view the ticket.
  2. To return to the chat at any time, click the Chat tab.

The Patron Information tab


Sending messages

To start chatting with the patron: 

  1. Enter your reply in the text box. As you write, the patron's chat widget will let them know that you are currently typing.
    1. To add simple formatting to your message, highlight the text you want to format and click on the Bold ( ), Italic ( ) or Underline ( U ) buttons.
  2. Click the Send Message button, or press Enter to send it to the patron.
    1. When the patron is typing a message to you, you'll see an "is typing..." message above the text box.

Sending a message

Status message indicating the patron is typing

Click on the panels below to learn about additional features available while chatting.

LibChat allows you to insert one of several popular emoji into your messages, for when an old fashioned :) just won't do.

  1. Click on the Emoji (Grinning emoji) button above the text box.
  2. In the Emoji Picker window, click on the one you want to use. It will automatically be inserted into the text box, where you can finish writing and send your message.

The Emoji button above the text box

The Emoji Picker window

While chatting, you can upload and send files to patrons.

  1. Click on the paperclip () button above the text box.
  2. In the Send a File window, you can either drag and drop the file into the file upload box, or click on the box to browse for the file on your computer.
    • The maximum file size is 20.0 MB.
    • Please note that files are only retained on the server for one month.
  3. Click on the Upload button. The patron will receive a link they can click to download it.

Paperclip button below the text box

Send a File window

Canned messages are pre-written blurbs that you can add to your replies. These can be great time savers when answering common questions, such as how to renew a book or how late the library is open. Your admin can create shared canned messages that all operators can use, but you can also make your own personal canned messages, as well.

To insert a canned message in your reply:

  1. Click on the Canned Messages button below the text box.
  2. From the Canned Messages window, click on the one you want to use. It will automatically be inserted into the text box, where you can modify it (if desired) and send it.

Canned Messages button

The Canned Messages window

Sometimes, the best answer to the patron's question may be found in one of your existing FAQs. To search your public FAQ groups:

  1. Click on the FAQs button below the text box.
  2. In the Search FAQs window, use the FAQ Group dropdown to search all public groups, or select a specific group to search.
  3. In the Search Terms(s) field, enter your keywords (this uses OR logic by default).
  4. Relevant results will display in real time as you add your terms.
    1. Click on an FAQ to view it in a new window.
    2. Click on an FAQ's chain link () icon to insert a link to it in the chat box.

The FAQs button

The Search FAQs window 

When you request a patron's contact info, you're asking them to provide either their email address or mobile number. This will be stored with the chat transcript and allows you to easily create a ticket for following up with the patron after the chat. Although you can prompt the user to provide this info in your chat widget, you can optionally request it from them at any time during the chat.

  1. Click on the contact card () button below the text box.
  2. You'll see a system message appear in the chat window as a confirmation. Meanwhile, the patron will see a message with a text field for entering their email address or mobile number.

The contact card button below the text box

The system confirmation message in the chat window

If you've added LibCal Appointments links to your user account's LibChat settings, you can quickly and easily share a link to your appointment page. This makes it easy for patrons to book a research appointment for additional help.

  1. Click on the calendar () button below the text box.
  2. In the Send a Calendar Link window, select the scheduler you want to share. The patron will receive a link, which they can click to book an appointment.

The calendar button below the text box

The Send a Calendar Link window

To prevent patrons from accidentally disconnecting from the chat session when visiting a link or navigating between pages, you can have the patron enter iframe chat mode. When a patron enters iframe chat mode:

  • A new window will open containing an iframe with the page they had been viewing.
  • Overlaying the page will be the chat widget itself.
  • As the patron navigates between pages in the iframe, the chat widget stays on top so they can remain in the chat session.

You can give patrons the option of launching iframe chat mode themselves within the chat widget, or you can send them a link to launch iframe chat mode.

Example of an iframe chat window

Suggesting iFrame chat mode to the patron
  1. Click on the columns () button below the text box.
  2. In the Suggest iFrame Chat window, use the Starting URL field to set which URL should load initially within the patron's iFrame.
    • If you see a blank white page beneath the chat window, this means that the URL you're trying to view has employed iframe busting technology, so the page can't be loaded in an iframe. If this happens, click the pop out icon  in the chat window to leave iframe mode - this will pop the chat into a separate window.
    • Please note that the Suggest iFrame Chat button will be disabled if the patron is chatting from a mobile device.
  3. Click the Send button. This will send a link to the patron that they can click to enter iFrame chat mode.

Please note: If enabled in the chat widget's settings, patrons can click the Launch iFrame Chat () button in their widget to enter iframe chat mode themselves.

  • When using this option, the page they are currently viewing will be loaded within the iframe, and their original chat widget will be disconnected.
  • The operator will see a message indicating that the patron has entered iframe chat mode.
  • Please note that the Launch iFrame Chat button will not appear if the patron is chatting from a mobile device.

The iframe chat button

The Suggest iFrame Chat window

Additional chat features

Although you might not use these during every chat, the following features can help you do even more with LibChat:


Switching between active chats

Filtering the list of Patron Chats

Under the Patron Chats section of the Chats tab, you'll see a list of all active chats in the departments you're monitoring.

  1. To show all active chats, click on the All filter (this is the default view). The total number of active chats will appear in parentheses.
  2. To show only unclaimed chats, click on the New filter. The number of unclaimed chats will appear in parentheses.
  3. To show only chats that you've claimed, click on the Mine filter. The number of your chats will appear in parentheses.

The All, New, and Mine filters

Individual vs. multi-chat overlay view

While chatting, you can choose to view chats individually or using multi-chat view.

  • Individually: when using this mode, you will only see one active chat at a time. Each active chat will appear in the second column of the dashboard.
    • When you click on a chat under Patron Chats, the previous chat will be hidden until you click on it again.
  • Multi-chat: when using this mode, you can have multiple chats open on the dashboard at one time. Each will appear in its own resizable window that you can drag & drop anywhere on your dashboard.
    • When you click on a chat under Patron Chats, it will pop out into a window on the dashboard.
    • To hide a chat without ending it, click on its Minimize () button. To display it again, simply click on it under Patron Chats.
    • Learn more about enabling the multi chat overlay view.

Click on the panels below to view more information about each dashboard view.

  1. If you are chatting with multiple patrons at once, you can easily switch between them by clicking on the patron's name under Patron Chats.
  2. The active chat will be highlighted under Patron Chats so you know which chat is currently displaying.
    • If you click on an active chat again, it will be hidden (but not ended) and the Status Messages and Alerts will display on the dashboard.

Example of the individual chat view

  1. Click on a chat under Patron Chats to open it in a window. If the chat is already open in a window, as indicated by the window () icon, clicking on it will bring it into focus.
  2. To move a chat window around the dashboard, click and drag the window's header (i.e. over the patron name and participants list).
  3. To resize a chat window, click and drag the bottom or right edges up of a window.
  4. To hide a chat window without ending the chat, click on its minimize () button. You can reopen it at any time by clicking on it under Patron Chats.

Example of a chat window while using multi-chat overlay view


Ending a chat session

  1. To end a chat from the dashboard, click on the End Chat button at the top of the chat pane.
  2. The chat's status indicator will turn red and a time stamp will appear to indicate that the chat was ended by you.
    1. To add this chat to a Reference Analytics dataset, click the Add to Reference Analytics link.
    2. To send a follow-up to the patron, click the Create a Ticket from this Chat link.
    3. To log an internal note with this chat transcript, enter it in the text box and click the Save button.
  3. To close this chat and remove it from the dashboard, click the Close Chat button.

Clicking the End Chat button

Clicking the Close Chat button

When a patron ends a chat

  1. If a patron ends a chat, the status indicator will turn red and a time stamp will appear indicating that the chat was closed by the patron.
    1. To add this chat to a Reference Analytics dataset, click the Add to Reference Analytics link.
    2. To send a follow-up to the patron, click the Create a Ticket from this Chat link.
    3. To log an internal note with this chat transcript, enter it in the text box and click the Save button.
  2. To close this chat and remove it from the dashboard, click the Close Chat button.

Closing a chat ended by the patron 

What happens if the patron gets disconnected from LibChat?

A chat can also end if the patron gets disconnected. For example, the patron's WiFi connection may have dropped, or they navigated away from the chat widget. In cases like this, LibChat will first attempt to reconnect the patron. If unable to reconnect, the chat session will end. The patron's widget will then notify them that they were unable to reconnect and ask them if they would like to submit a ticket for follow up, instead.

Example of a chat widget after a patron was unable to reconnect

Managing a disconnected patron
  1. The chat status indicator will turn orange to indicate that the user is attempting to reconnect.
  2. If the user is unable to reconnect after a short time, the chat will be disconnected and the patron. 
    1. To add this chat to a Reference Analytics dataset, click the Add to Reference Analytics link.
    2. To send a follow-up to the patron, click the Create a Ticket from this Chat link.
    3. To log an internal note with this chat transcript, enter it in the text box and click the Save button.
  3. To close this chat and remove it from the dashboard, click the Close Chat button.

Orange chat status indicator

Closing a chat ended by a disconnected patron

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