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Chat widgets: online & offline status explained

When you embed a chat widget on a page, it will display as either online or offline:

  • Online: in this mode, the widget will allow patrons to start a chat. If autoload delay (aka proactive chat) is enabled for the widget, it will prompt the user if they would like to chat.

An online chat widget

  • Offline: in this mode, the widget will not allow patrons to start chat and the autoload delay prompt will not appear. However, depending upon how the widget is customized, it will guide patrons to search your FAQs or submit a ticket instead.

An offline chat widget

Makes sense, right? But how do widgets switch between those statuses? And what if the widget isn't showing the status you're expecting? In this Springboard, you'll learn how a widget goes from offline to online status, and what to do if a widget appears offline even though you're logged into LibChat (and vice versa).


Who monitors a widget?

In LibChat, each widget can be monitored by different chat departments, operators, and/or co-ops. When creating or editing a widget, you can customize this using the Who monitors the widget setting.

The Who monitors the widget setting

When you assign a department, operator, or co-op to monitor a widget, the online/offline status of the widget is linked to the online/offline status of that department, operator, or co-op.

For example if a widget is assigned to:

  • A chat department: the widget will appear as online if at least one member of that department is online and monitoring it.
  • An individual operator (i.e. user): the widget will only appear as online when that user is online and monitoring their personal chats.
  • A co-op: the widget will appear as online if at least one operator from one of the co-op's institutions is online and monitoring the co-op.

Fallbacks

LibChat widgets are not limited to just one department, operator, or co-op. Thanks to the fallback feature, you can assign a series of backup options in case the primary one is offline.

For example, in the Who monitors the widget setting for your chat widget, you could assign the following:

  • Option 1: your local Reference department
    • If anyone from this department is signed in and monitoring it, the chat widget will appear online.
    • New chats will go to this department's operators.
  • Option 2: your local Circulation department
    • If no one from the Reference department is signed in and monitoring it, the chat widget will check if anyone from the Circulation department is instead.
    • If so, the chat widget will appear online and new chats will go to this department's operators.
  • Option 3: your regional chat co-op (if you have one)
    • If no one from either local department is online and monitoring it, the chat widget will check if anyone from this co-op is instead.
    • If so, the chat widget will appear online and new chats will go to this co-op's operators.
  • Option 4: the LibChat 24/7 Co-Op (if you're a member)
    • If no one from your either local department or your regional co-op is online and monitoring it, the chat widget will check if anyone from the LibChat 24/7 Co-Op is instead.
    • If so, the chat widget will appear online and new chats will go to its operators.
  • If none of your assigned options are online and being monitored, your chat widget will appear as offline.

As you can see, LibChat falls back to each option in order.

Co-ops and timed fallbacks

If your library belongs to a LibChat co-op, you'll have the option to enable a timed fallback for your widget. When enabled, chats can automatically fallback to a co-op after a certain number of seconds -- even if your local department or operator is online.

Building on the example above, here's how a 10-second timed fallback would work:

  1. An operator from your local Reference department is online and monitoring it.
  2. A patron submits a new chat and a notification appears for that operator.
  3. Your local operator, however, is super busy and doesn't answer the chat right away.
  4. After 10 seconds, operators from your regional co-op will be notified and can claim the chat.
  5. If the chat is still unclaimed after 10 more seconds, operators from the 24/7 Co-Op will be notified and can claim it.

At any point during a timed fallback, any operator can claim the chat. For example, if the local operator gets back in time, they can still claim the chat -- even though the co-ops have been notified.

The Co-Op Timed Fallback setting


How do I monitor chat?

When you sign into LibChat, your default departments to monitor will be set to Online status. In other words, you will always be monitoring these departments when you sign into LibChat.

You can customize these defaults in your LibAnswers user account settings. To get there, sign into LibAnswers and click on your email address in the navigation bar. Then:

  1. Scroll down to the Default Departments to monitor field, found under LibChat Settings.
  2. Expand the dropdown to select individual departments to monitor, or select "All assigned departments" to monitor them all by default.
  3. Click on the Save button at the bottom of the page.

The Default Departments to Monitor setting

While signed into LibChat, you can also turn monitoring on or off by:

  • Setting individual departments & co-ops to Online or Offline: under the Settings tab of the LibChat dashboard, you can set individual departments (under the Local Monitoring tab) and co-ops (under the Co-Op Monitoring tab) to Online or Offline status.
    • Online status: you are actively monitoring this department/co-op. You will be notified of, and can claim, new patron chats.
    • Offline status: you are not monitoring this department/co-op. You will not receive new chat notifications and cannot claim new chats.
  • Changing your availability status: use the Status buttons at the top of the dashboard to switch between Offline, Internal, and Online status.
    • If you switch to Offline or Internal status, all departments & co-ops will set to offline status. You will not be notified of, or able to claim, new patron chats.
    • If you switch back to Online status (the default), all departments you were previously monitoring will be set to online. This will allow you to be notified of, and claim, new patron chats.

Department status toggles under the Settings tab of the LibChat dashboard 


Can I see who else is monitoring chat?

Local departments

Under the Chats tab of the dashboard (or the Internal tab, if you've chosen to display internal chats in their own tab), click on a department's Members button to view a list of its operators and their current online status.

the Department Members modal window

Co-ops

Under the Settings tab of the dashboard, click on the Co-Op Monitoring tab. Then, click on a co-op's Check status button. Although this will not list the individual operators that are online, it will display an online status with the number of other operators monitoring the co-op. If no other users are monitoring the co-op from member institutions, then it will show an offline status.

The Co-Op Status modal window

LibChat Settings > Who's Online (Admins only)

If you are an Admin user (and have LibChat enabled in your account settings), there is also a way to view all online users without having to sign into LibChat. Log into LibAnswers and go to Admin > LibChat Setup and click on the Who's Online tab. Here you'll find two views:

  • Users: this will display a list of all online users, which departments and co-ops they're monitoring, how many chats they're in, and when the signed in.
    • If someone forgot to sign out at the end of their shift, no worries: click the Terminate Session button to log them out.
    • You can also use schedule sign-off rules to automatically sign out all users at a set time each day.

The Users view of the Who's Online page

  • Departments: this will display a list of all departments, their current online/offline status, and the number of users currently monitoring each one.

The Departments view of the Who's Online page


Why is a widget not showing the right status?

I'm signed into LibChat, but the widget is still offline

  • Wait a minute. No, really -- there is a 1 minute cache for chat widgets, which means a change in status may take up to a minute to reflect in the widget. If you just signed into LibChat, give it a minute and then refresh the page with your widget.
  • Is the widget being monitored by you or your department(s)? Check the widget's Who monitors the widget setting to see if you're monitoring the designated departments.
  • Are you actively monitoring the department(s) assigned to the widget? Go to the Settings tab of the LibChat dashboard and ensure that you have the department(s) set to Online status. If you do not see the correct departments, then you may not have been given permission to monitor them. Check with your local LibAnswers admin for assistance.
  • Is your LibChat availability status set to Online? If you are set to Internal or Offline, then you cannot monitor incoming patron chats.

I'm not signed into LibChat, but the widget is still online

  • Wait a minute. No, really -- there is a 1 minute cache for chat widgets, which means a change in status may take up to a minute to reflect in the widget. If you just signed out of LibChat (and there are no other users or co-ops monitoring that widget), give it a minute and then refresh the page with your widget.
  • Are any other users currently online? If so, and they are actively monitoring that widget's departments, then the widget will still appear online.
    • Remember: if needed, Admin users can manually terminate a user's session via Admin > LibChat Setup > Who's Online.
  • Be sure to consider fallback departments and co-ops, too: if those are being monitored, the widget will continue to appear online.

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