Headline results captured by Impact
Of customers were female entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurs from BAME backgrounds
Customer satisfaction rating
The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom holding a collection of more than 150 million items, including manuscripts, books, periodicals, newspapers, photographs, posters, maps and ephemera. The British Library serves a variety of audiences from the UK and abroad, ranging from academic researchers to entrepreneurs, start-ups, SME’s and the general public. It has been a trusted source of information and support to Entrepreneurs and SME’s since it opened to the public in 2006.
In 2012, the British Library launched the Business & IP Centre National Network; a network of 15 (and growing) Regional and City libraries across the UK who share the British Library’s commitment to providing high quality business advice and support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs from that first spark of inspiration to successfully launching and developing a business.
The Centres offer free access to the UK’s most comprehensive collection of business and intellectual property information, including around 50 million patent specifications, unique databases on trademarks and registered designs, thousands of market research reports, company reports, trade journals, business directories and guides to legal information and government publications.
The Centres also run a programme of activities including workshops, 1 to 1’s and events delivered by Business & IP Centre experts (library staff) and partners across the UK.
The British Library relies on customer feedback gathered from these activities to help them monitor and improve the quality of their support programmes, and to demonstrate to stakeholders that their services continue to meet the needs of our customers.
A major headache that required a major rethink.
The existing process of surveying and data collection was inefficient with outdated technology and multiple processes stacked on-top of one another.
Prior to adopting the Impact platform, each BIPC collected feedback data from attendees at workshops, 1 to 1’s and events through a paper copy feedback form. These forms were then sent to the British Library Management Information Coordinator from each Centre and the data manually entered onto a Workshop Management System.
The system consisted of a 13-year-old database that was struggling to scale and cope with the amount of feedback data it needed to hold. Data was then exported to excel where it was subsequently analysed and a report produced, which was then sent back to each BIPC centre for dissemination to local stakeholders, funders and supporters.
As you can imagine, this was an extremely inefficient and time-consuming process that needlessly took away a large number of resources that could otherwise have been spent better supporting the businesses community.
How we rose to the challenge to provide a unified approach to customer feedback
With over 100,000 historical survey results to analyse and report on, it was vital that the solution was fast, scalable and adaptable.
The first element was to create a digital feedback form to replace the paper forms that had been used in the past. This also allowed the British Library to safely store and quickly analyse customer feedback from their most recent sessions. This form mirrored the existing questions on the paper survey, but we also made provisions for custom fields for specific events and beneficiaries for complete flexibility.
The second element was to migrate their existing feedback dataset into a new platform that was not only responsive and scalable but also allowed for historical data interrogation alongside more recent entries.
Using Impact’s enterprise permissions module, we were able to ensure each of the 15 BIPC’s had localised analytical control to review their own customer feedback while simultaneously allowing the National Network Project team, based at the British Library, to view and analyse feedback across the whole BIPC Network.
Finally, using Impacts OpenAPI, we connected the platform to Eventbrite and added automation to automatically distribute post-event surveys to all participants.
Impact’s genuine commitment to ethical business practices and the accessibility and ease-of-use of our platform for colleagues across the BIPC network was a key consideration for The British Library when awarding the contract. Also, being a cloud-based platform, there was no longer any physical software or hardware the British Library had to set up, manage and maintain.
The Impact team understood the requirements of the project early on and provided very helpful suggestions for ways that would enable us to approach the challenges. The platform itself is very straightforward and user friendly.
Pivoting during the COVID-19 pandemic
The effects of COVID-19 also added increased complexities with events needing to take place online.
This meant the normal survey workflow had to be quickly adapted to allow for participant registration across multiple platforms in addition to Eventbrite. To facilitate this, we built an ‘Event Hub’ that acted as a central data point for all participant registrations and ensured post-event surveys could still be sent, regardless of the event platform.
When importing legacy survey data, even at 1 second per row, it still required 27 hours to import, so managing this, whilst ensuring high availability of the platform for other customers was key. Thankfully being cloud based, Impact is able to intelligently increase and decrease its required number of computing nodes as needed to cope with bursts in demand.
Lead engineer – Impact Reporting
Beginning The Migration
When it came to migrating the original database structure to our platform, there were a number of complex hurdles to overcome.
With over 100,000 records to migrate over from an old database spanning 13 years, to a new object orientated structure, this migration presented a number of challenges. Firstly, there were numerous different types of historical naming conventions. This required the manual cleansing of many records and then re-mapping into more understandable, and standardised names, to not only make future analysis significantly easier but also so that reports could make full use of the entire database, increasing reliability and validity.
This was further compounded by erroneous data – incorrect dates, missing entries etc. This required sanity checks to make sure each record was correct. In addition, because there now exists mandatory fields on the data collection forms, where there weren’t in the past, this required the rebuilding of validation rules to allow exceptions for older data and prevent errors or missing data from being returned.
The British Library also wanted each BIPC centre to be able to access data from their own events whenever required. The old database didn’t have a simple method to link an entry to a specific centre. This required our analysts to identify patterns in event names or ID’s and manually match to each centre.
Finally, the sheer size of the database required some careful planning and consideration when it came to migrating a large dataset and ensuring there was enough computing power readily available to import that volume of data consistently for an extended period of time.
New processes and a completely digital workflow, has unlocked deeper data insights and analysis to show the true depth of social Impact being generated
With the British Library generating a huge amount of social impact from their BIPC activities, the Impact Reporting Platform let them go beyond tracking and measuring standard KPIs. With responses now being digital, they could be better analysed, with decisions shaping the future of BIPC services now also being able to take into account the subtle nuances resulting from the qualitative insight from surveys.
The new reports generated through Impact better outline their customer demographics, business stage and customer satisfaction levels, providing a deeper level of insight into their audience through rich, high-quality present and historical data that can be leveraged across other areas within BIPC and the British Library. They were also now able to more easily track the customer journey through the British Libraries programme of services.
Thanks to Impacts digital surveying functionality, the British Library has since been able to demonstrate the continued high standards of their services; scoring an average of 4.5 out of 5 for customer satisfaction during the same quarter.
One of the achievements which the BIPC is most proud of is the accessibility of its services. From using Impact, they have been able to demonstrate that 64% of their customers were female entrepreneurs and 42% of our customers were entrepreneurs from a black, asian and minority ethnic background.
With small businesses making up over 99% of the business population within the UK, supporting small businesses is a no-brainer when it comes to delivering social value in the sense that they are local and almost always employ local people. Through BIPC’s events and activities offering training to local people, it helps more people stay in the area, send their children to local schools, use the local libraries and health services and spend their money locally.
The Impact Reporting Platform has been incredibly time saving for the Business & IP Centre National Network, saving us many hours that would otherwise have been spent manually inputting customer feedback forms onto our old database. The time that we’ve saved has been put to use supporting more customers and improving and adapting our services, particularly in relation to the tremendous challenges and disruption caused by the Coronavirus Pandemic.