Thoughts on Authenticity

July 6, 2008 at 6:32 pm 1 comment

Back in March, at PLA, I remember Karen Hyman talking about authenticity in the lastest issue of Time magazine. It intrigued me enough to cause me to look into the issue of Time and then also interlibrary loan the book, Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want by James H. Gilmore and B. Joseph Pine II.
While the book is definitely geared towards business I think there are lots of ideas that we in the library field can take and use to our advantage with our customers. Gilmore and Pine talk about why we buy what we buy and that currently, people purchase based on how well the items reflect what the person wants to say or project about themselves. Consumers will consider experience and products more real if they have a hand in creating it themselves. What it boils down to is creating an experience that is true to what you say you are.
Steven Bell echoed these sentiments at the FutureTech for Libraries Symposium in June. He explained that we are in an experience economy and that we need to be aware of the expectations that exist regarding services and technology.
So what does this all mean for libraries?  Well, let’s think about a few key questions:

  1. What expectations do users have about your services? Are they positive or negative? Do you meet those expectations, even the negative ones?
  2. Are your customers able to personalize their services? Do you offer pointed email advisories? Can they customize their experience on your library’s website?

Gilmore and Pine say “Be what you say you are by finding your very own original way for customers to experience your offering in the places you establish” (p.152). It isn’t an easy proposition. It may take lots of work to make the vision and missions of our institutions to match and exceed positive expectations that people have about libraries of all types.
Important to remember is that “What you’ve done is what you are, and what you do is who you become” (p.218).
Sounds like Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.” Maybe that is exactly what we need to do.


Entry filed under: Customer Experience, Leadership, Management of Libraries. Tags: , .

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1 Comment

  • 1. @MCL  |  July 7, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    >>. What expectations do users have about your services?
    >>match and exceed positive expectations that people have about libraries of all types.

    We’ve had three patrons in the last two weeks who have come from other libraries (in one case, four counties away) where they are not getting what they want. Patron pays for ILL service at his local library and they get the wrong edition of the book he requested. (He drove here to see if he could buy a card from us, we don’t sell them. Open Borrowing and what all. We showed him how to use JerseyCat.) Another patron refused to settle her bill at her local library “where they yell at you.” Could we do it for her? Third patron announced to one and all, in ringing tones, “I’m never borrowing books from a library again! I’ll buy them first! [in this economy?]” This because her local library doesn’t believe she returned two books. (Her perception..this is all about patron perception.)
    Times are tough, jobs are disappearing, people are stressed. They expect, now they *need*, courteous support from their libraries. And–gas prices notwithstanding?–they seem to be “shopping” libraries until they find what fits right and feels good and useful.

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