It’s quite simple, really. If you want folks to use your digital reference service, you have to make it easy for them to find it. In fact, they shouldn’t even have to go hunting for it; it should be right there in front of them as much as possible. A year and a half ago, I was excited when a change in the EBSCOhost platform allowed libraries to insert chat widgets into all search results pages that got generated (see Paul Pival’s post with step-by-step instructions about how to set it up). Some libraries had already managed to find a way to get chat widgets placed in their library catalogs, but getting a database company to free up space like this seemed truly revolutionary. In the years since, no other vendor that I know of allows this kind of customization. Yes, many platforms give us ways that we can put custom links in and graphics. What we really need, though, from the likes of LexisNexis, ProQuest, etc. is just a little bit of space for our widgets, just a sliver.
I should note that this plea for space was sparked by an announcement from the California Digital Library that the WorldCat Local instance for the entire University of California library system would have a chat widget in it. The announcement isn’t quite accurate, as the chat widget itself is not embedded in the interface; instead, there’s just a graphic (albeit, a nice one) that says “Chat with a librarian” and that when clicked, opens a pop up window with their chat widget. At that graphic is only on the search results page (it should probably also be on the search page too). I think it would have been much cooler if the widget was actually embedded in the page, as our chat widgets in EBSCOhost can be.