Monday, August 6, 2012

Roving - The Review (part 4)

How did it go (and how do we know?) (No more rhymes, I promise)

The Stats:
This year with the increased staffing from the 4, fully trained peer-support Advisers we have seen quite impressive increases in enquiries handled (both completed and referred to other teams) in fact enquiries front of house have risen by a total of 88% across the year. This was in comparison to having 3 established roving Advisers and some support from temps in the previous year. We have also seen a 31% rise in the number of additional tasks completed by Advisers whilst front of house (things like replacing receipt rolls, unjamming copiers, picking up litter etc.).

Internal Feedback: 
We have had several really positive pieces of feedback from other teams who have benifitted from this years trial - for example from our Customer Support (Helpdesk) team because we have been able to offer more support over weekends, and from our Steward team who staff the building when we run on self-service only during staff development days - as this year we have been able to support this with Adviser cover too.

Is that all Boss?
You might be forgiven for thinking that this leads us to the conclusion that the project was an overwhelming success and there is nothing more to do. However, we all know, deep down, that that is just never the case...

Adviser Comments:
The Peer-support Advisers gave a load of really really useful feedback about the role and their experiences. The key themes were around training for the role and student reactions to them as staff. So here's what they said:

1. Training: 
We tried to get most of their training in before term started but this meant they forgot a lot of things later on. The key suggestions were:
  • More practical on-the-job training accompanied by an established member of the team, carrying on for a longer period of time
  • Put training refreshers online so they can be completed on ipads during quieter periods while staff are on duty - so saving the need for separate training, making staff available for service cover whilst training, and also giving staff something productive to do when the service is quiet
  • Get a wider range of staff from other teams involved in delivering training (or attending the training with the Advisers where appropriate) so they get to meet other staff in context - really useful for understanding and remembering who to refer what to - also just for putting names to faces early on
2. Student reactions: 
The Advisers generally, not just the Peer-support Advisers, raised issues around the student perception of the role. The main things were: 
  • Students thought Advisers were volunteers, not trained staff
  • Students asked Advisers if the ipads were their own, from home
  • Students thought Advisers could only perform very basic services and would rather queue at the Helpdesk than approach an Adviser for anything complex
  • Students confused Advisers with Stewards (who's role is to support appropriate use of the study environment and ensure rules and regs are followed)
We held a short focus group and ran a quick survey of students to find out how much they understood about front of house roles in general. The results were not surprising. Students on the whole did not know who does what or why. They tend to go to the Helpdesk for everything, whether this is appropriate or not - even to the extent that they would walk down 4 flights of stairs to go to the desk for help finding a book or using equipment, rather than ask the roving Adviser or Steward who was already on that floor. 

Of course the irony is that the Helpdesk often refer these same students back to the Advisers for assistance, because Helpdesk staff are mostly desk-bound so cannot usually go up to other floors to help find books, use equipment etc. Also because Advisers take the first level of referrals for e-resource access enquiries - which we get quite a lot of.

The Advisers do pick up a lot of enquiries, and they are helping a lot of customers every day. But we are clearly missing a proportion of students who are either unlikely to approach them or even actively avoid them. And on top of the obvious implications for service delivery it is not good for staff morale when they approach a student and offer help only to be told "No thanks, I want to speak to a real member of staff" (yes, that's an actual quote from an actual student).

Adviser Overalls: 
Overall the Advisers say they have enjoyed the role and got a lot out of it. They have gained customer service experience, learned more about the library and had fun. It has been worth while for them in terms of experience and skill sets and will be useful on a CV.


Knowing me and knowing you:
By the end of term 3 of the trial year there were still key staff in other teams who did not know who all the Advisers were, and by the same token, there were Advisers who did not know all the staff they should be making referrals to. This takes us back to the point about involving a wider number of staff in the training program. It also prompted us to start making drag and drop photo match games of key people we refer enquiries to. 

Conclusion: 

Basically, its been fab! 
  • The Peer-support Advisers have enjoyed it and got a lot out of it and so have the established team.
  • We have been able to provide an increased service to customers
  • We have gathered valuable feedback about the service and the student perception of the service
  • We have gained valuable feedback about Adviser training provision
  • We have a great basis for developing both training and marketing 
So what? 
So now we need to think about how to use this feedback to best effect and develop the service for next year. Thats coming up in the next post "The Future".

Related Posts: 
The rOverview of this topic can be found in the first post.
The People (who are these wild rovers?)
The Tech (what wireless wizzardry is required to make roving work at Warwick?)

Still to come: The Future (whatever next?)

(Images: The cute bear in overalls is courtesy of Jo Naylor on Flikr

1 comment:

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