My wish list for new QuestionPoint software
In my role as a member of the 24/7 Reference Advisory Board, I was asked to submit a wishlist for the redevelopment of the chat reference software that QuestionPoint uses. I got a very cordial thank you for that e-mail, the text of which I'd like to share here.
Much of my inspiration for how our software should look (especially on the user's end) comes from IM, which in the minds of our users frames their expectations for our "chat" services. We need to make our software run as smoothly and quickly as IM software but make sure it's got the advanced functionality that it needs for a cooperative environment (reporting, tranfsers/conferences, etc.) and for an environment where users can be instructed in the use of library resources (co-browsing to demo databases, web searches, catalog searches, etc.).
(1) Co-browsing is unaffected by firewalls and pop-up blockers. This is my number one request. Everthing else would be gravy. If I can't co-browse with all my patrons, I might as well save my library 10 grand a year and go with instant messaging. There is no reason to expect any patron to have to tinker with their firewall settings just to allow us to co-browse; most users don't know what we're talking about when we ask them to, let alone have any clue about how to do it. Expecting a patron to configure their firewall to be able to chat with us is an unreasonable obstacle.
(2) Co-browsing works on Macs.
(3) Co-browsing works in all browsers (it can't just be IE but also has to be Safari, Firefox, AOL, etc .)
(4) Scroll of chat messages has the newest at the bottom, not at the top.
(5) There's no "End Call" button placed right where anyone will accidentally click it.
(6) Delete the "Scripts" window and allow for them to appear in one simple drop down. Access to scripts should be more immediate.
(7) Make it easier to toggle between multiple chat sessions (the grey highlight feature is hard to see). If you have more than one chat going, you see a line listing details of each one (IP address, user name, etc.). The one you are chatting with is highlighted in green, the ones you have on hold are yellow. Any that disconnect but that haven't had a resolution code assigned yet are red. If you click on one that is yellow, the highlighting turns green and the one you just were in turns yellow.
(8) Speed, speed, speed. Chat messages should ping back and forth; pushed pages should open more quickly. Users have been raised these days on IM; the pace of it is what they expect when they come to chat with us.
(9) Indicator on my screen and on the user's screen that one person is typing. This is a standard feature in IM. How many times have you wondered if you're patron was still there, typed out a "are you still there message" only to discover that the patron was typing a long message to you. And since our messages tend to be much longer than those of the patrons, it would be good to give them an indication that we really are still there and are ardently pounding away on our keyboards with another message for the patron.
(1) Frame with chat messages could be undocked on user's screen and re-docked if necessary.
(2) Process of transferring or conferencing chats between librarians is easier.
(3) All libraries share one standardized system of resolution codes.
(4) Allow member libraries to customize the default initial message. Instead of this automatically being sent to the user at the start of every chat session:
"A librarian will be with you in about a minute.
[Librarian Screen Name - A librarian has joined the session]"
I'd like to be able to customize for my library.
(1) Would accept chat sessions from IM clients. That way, we could also run an IM reference system and one from QP. If a chat came in from IM, it could be transferred over to QP, which would offer greater functionality.
Since eGain may be going by the wayside, I should mention the things in it that I definitely, absolutely don't want to lose:
- ability to see the all the info we have about the user while chatting with them (IP address, link to previous chat sessions, e-mail address, browser, etc.)
- audio signals that a session needs to be picked up
- automatic e-mailing of transcripts provided by the user
- no downloads are required by the user to chat