Archive for April, 2006
Another tip for creating a positive customer experience comes from past retail experience: do a daily walk-through of your library. Ideally, it should be done in the morning, before the library opens. Train yourself to walk through all areas while doing visual scans: what needs to be straightened, “fluffed”, cleaned, restocked, etc.? Pick up any trash that may be lying around, push in chairs, straighten piles of handouts/bookmarks, check your signs for currency (I hate seeing outdated signs), check book displays for neatness and fill in books as needed, write down any major problems that you can’t take care of immediately (repairs, lighting, IT issues, etc.) and report them to the appropriate person/department ASAP. If time allows, do more than one walk-through a day. Train others to do it. Pretty soon, you’ll start to do these ‘visual scans’ automatically throughout the day, without even thinking about it.
Other than a hearty agreement, I don’t have much to add to Zgirl’s suggestions other than this point: It can also be useful to do a virutal walk-through (a “click-through”?) of your website. Clean up those broken or outdated links. View your website through various browsers and screen resolutions to make sure your websites are viewable and properly scaled. Every page doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should be accessible and readable through the most common browsers (IE, Firefox/Mozilla, Safari) and screen resolutions (1024×768 is the most common, followed by 800×600. )
Next up, Walk Throughs… (no, that’s not a typo. yes, I meant to capitalize.)
OK, so even CNN (search for ‘Snake Appeal;’ video clip aired Apr. 14) has picked up the story about how bloggers are affecting Hollywood. . . Excitement about the truly simple title and plot of the forthcoming movie Snakes on a Plane is amazing; use your favorite search engine to find “Snakes on a plane blog” (warning: foul language ensues). Libraries truly have much to learn from this phenomenon!
Imagine your library users getting this excited about your collection, facility, or services. . .
- They understand what you’re offering right from its title, and
- They help create it, modify it, and market it to others
What could be better?! Somehow the traditional model of libraries — in which we collect stuff and then loan it out to folks only via strict rule-governed interpersonal or technological exchanges — is not this exciting. The concept of Snakes on a Plane is simple and easy for everyone to understand. In fact, it simultaneously works on several levels (perhaps for different “users”) — the literal, the horrific, the ironic, and the twisted. It engenders creativity, personalization, and a multidirectional flow of discussion. Apparently, it spawns dynamic change and improvements, and gives “users” a feeling of ownership and co-creation whether they influenced the final product or not. Talk about customer service lessons!
Since Pete is planning on a series dealing with topics related to customer experience for his next few posts, I thought I would toss this in to the ring for discussion. File it under “news of the weird” or some such title. The headline certainly caught my eye! I certainly would not want to be a student and have to use this library for my research. It doth seem to me that the library staff at this school has found several great ways to deter use of the library! Way to go!
Librarians ban visible underwear
A Swedish school library is refusing to lend books to pupils if their underwear is showing.
Pupils of Tullbro School in Falkenberg do not have to wear a uniform but librarians are clamping down on some teenage fashions.
Children who wear hipsters which show off their underwear are not allowed to borrow books, reports Hallands Nyheter newspaper.
Wearers of baseball caps and beanies are also banned from using the library.
For the next month or so I’m going to do a series of posts offering practical tips for creating a positive customer experience. Many of the tips will be ideas that can be immediately implemented, while a few will require a little bit of planning. I offer these tips as a smorgasbord, not a laundry list. They are born out of my own experiences as a library customer, from the experiences of friends and family, as well as from ideas generated at a recent organizational planning day I participated in.
Before I get into the tips, a caveat: Everything I suggest hereafter will specifically address the customer experience, but the uber-tip is that employees must be treated well, and with a basic level of trust. I don’t just mean that management must treat employees well. I mean employees must also treat management well, and co-workers must treat co-workers well. I’m talking 360 degrees. There should also be some shared sense, organizationally, of being on the same team, united for the same general purpose. I believe that a strong commitment to the customer experience in no way conflicts with a strong commitment to employees, and in my experience the two commitments correlate highly with each other.
One other point before getting into the tips: I am consciously using the term ‘customer experience’ rather than ‘customer service’. For me this not just a semantic difference but a reflection of how I’m beginning to think about these issues. ‘Customer service’ focuses on our behavior and offerings and looks at service from our perspective. (i.e. did we say “thank you”, do we offer a decent phone menu system, do we have convenient hours, etc.)
‘Customer experience’ focuses on the customer’s perception, and looks at service from the customer’s perspective (i.e. were they able to use the catalog, was the library open when they needed it, did they receive help from someone who treated them kindly.) I am finding it more useful to look at and think about the customer experience, and then “reverse engineer” to craft the organization’s services, offerings, and policies with an eye on improving the customer’s experience.
Practical tip #1: Start thinking about your customers’ experience. What do they experience when they walk in the door? When they visit your webpage? When they call your phone? When they email you? Ask these questions and encourage co-workers to do the same. Get some pizzas for lunch and brainstorm in the lunch room. Make a list, pick one negative customer experience, and find a way to improve it.
Leslie Burger, President-Elect of the ALA and the Director at MPOW, wrote about it in great detail earlier this month in her blog. Information on how you can donate books to the cause is found on the Katrina Project page. The before and after pictures of the library in New Orleans will break your heart.
Special Thanks to Bob Keith for taking a walk to campus today to get these pictures for this post.
Thank you, Karen and Janie, for your posts earlier this week which mentioned MySpace,IM, and other social networking sites as primary means of communication among high school and college students and other patrons of our libraries, especially teens and young adults. I totally agree that if we want to better connect with many of them, we need to at least be familiar with these “tools” for communication and sharing. If you are not familiar with and have little interest in MySpace, Facebook, and other social networking sites, you might reconsider:
These interactive networks of photos, blogs, user profiles, groups, and internal email systems have been interconnecting people for a few years now and their use and popularity have been explosive! Believe it or not, these social networks have become some of the highest traffic sites on the Web in 2006. Millions of people, especially high school and college students, have joined them because of the ease of interactivity between the site’s users. Consider these stats from Alexa Internet:
In February 2006, MySpace was ranked as the world’s 7th most popular English language website and the most popular English language social networking website with higher traffic and over 56 million users–now, as of April 2006, it is ranked 5th in the world. Facebook, another very popular social network was listed as the world’s 66th most popular English language website, but in April, it has risen to number 28.
As a librarian and professor, I joined Facebook last year when I found out that the students in my public speaking class were communicating with each other via that tool, instead of our university’s email system. It was amazing how much more open and willing the students were to sharing information about each other and their individual and group projects in our class, via Facebook. They were thrilled that I was willing to join Facebook, and they loved that I used it to find out and celebrate their birthdays, for instance, as they came up during the semester.
Anyway, I for one, am quite interested in seeing how Karen, her library, and other libraries incorporate and use MySpace and other social networks to better connect with their patrons and students.
For those who travel to remote locations or just travel a lot and are never sure when or where they will be able to find a connection a new service being launched today promises a solution for finding information when you can’t get online. Webaroo is a new search service that relies on caching to bring the Internet to mobile devices even when there’s no Internet connection. The ZDNet blog and CNET News both offer up more inforomation on Webaroo — a company that I will definitely be keeping my eye on.