Implementing Proactive Chat


Use proactive chat to reach new users

Participating libraries that would like to reach out to new AskAway users should consider proactive chat as an effective option. During the pilot, the Task Group found that 87% of respondents to the proactive chat user survey were new AskAway users versus 52% of respondents to the general AskAway exit survey during the same time period.

Consider the following implementation stages 


Discuss at an institutional level whether proactive chat is a good fit for your library and user community (e.g., the timing and resources available to support the set-up). Plan where the widgets will be located on the library website, within research databases, etc. This phase will involve the AskAway local coordinator(s) and may also involve other library staff such as IT and web experts.

When deciding where to place proactive chat, your library should conduct a self-assessment to determine student needs and institutional goals and resources. For example, if your library wants to reach students with research needs, add proactive chat to research starting points and databases. If your library is looking to reach users more broadly at their point-of-need, it will be more effective to add proactive chat to the library homepage, high-traffic pages, and pages where users encounter barriers to using the library. Furthermore, these decisions should be reviewed periodically to ensure the widget placement continues to meet the needs of your user community.


The duration for implementation will depend on a variety of factors such as the scope of widget placement, customizations, and institutional web or IT support available. Allow for a minimum of two weeks for the implementation stage, including testing and troubleshooting. The Admin Centre and LibraryH3lp will be available to generate embed code and provide troubleshooting support in this phase. During implementation, test for usability on different platforms (e.g., on a mobile phone, in databases). Widget branding should align with AskAway or your institution’s branding so the proactive chat invitation is clearly associated with the library.

Maintenance and Assessment

Once implementation is complete, your library may need to dedicate staff time to further maintain and test the proactive chat widgets. If your library is interested in getting feedback on the proactive chat feature from users, your library has the option to link to the proactive chat user survey when the feature is first launched.

Monitor the volume of traffic and take steps to adjust widgets as needed, in consultation with the Admin Centre. For example, if the volume of traffic is unmanageable, consider options such as increasing the timer length of the invitation or temporarily removing proactive chat from a high-traffic page. Alternatively, if the growth in chat sessions is slow, add proactive chat to more, or a different selection, of the library’s pages.

Customize widget settings

The proactive chat invitation is customizable. Choose the settings that best meet your library’s needs:


Reach out to users at the right time. Consider how long users typically spend on a page and set the invitation timing to appear at the optimal time. The current default timing is 15 seconds, but this can easily be customized in LibraryH3lp.


Place the widget in the bottom-right of the page unless this interferes with content on the website. In this case, alignment on the bottom-left is preferable.

Invitation wording

Reach out to users with the right wording. Use a friendly invitation written in plain language. Customize the invitation to suit the page where the proactive chat invitation is located. For example, "Hi! Do you have a question about your research?" on a research help page. The default invitation is "Need help? Chat with us now." This can be customized in LibraryH3lp.

Invitation design

The colour used in the invitation should match AskAway or your institution’s branding.

Example of an AskAway proactive chat invitation

User survey invitation

If your library chooses to present students with the proactive chat user survey, provide the following two survey prompts to encourage them to fill out the survey:

  • After the user enters their first message:
    • “At any time during our chat, click the “Feedback” link in the bottom right corner to fill out a short survey and provide feedback on a new feature.”
  • After the service provider ends the chat:
    • “Thank you for using AskAway. We’ve added a new feature and would value your feedback. Let us know what you think by filling out this short survey [link to proactive chat user survey].”

Communicate with service providers

Communicate activities and changes to service providers at your institution, so they have the information they need to staff the service. For example, if your library implements proactive chat, service providers will be assigned a new queue. More information can be found in the proactive chat FAQs.