How Engaging is Your Website?

I just read Rising to the Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public Libraries, by the Aspen Institute.

On page 15, they talked about the library as place. I was struck by this:

The library as it exists within virtual space must be considered as a wholly independent but highly integrated experience; that is, the library’s virtual presence must be as engaging as its physical space and fully serve the library’s mission built around equitable access, learning and civic development.

Wow. Did you catch that? ” … as engaging as its physical space…” and “fully serve the library’s mission …”

Are we there yet? Look around your building, your service points, your programs. Your most popular stuff. Then look at your digital spaces.

Are we there yet? I don’t think so.

Pic by Quinn Dombrowski

Moo Cards and Customer Delight

Moo CardsMoo Cards really knows how to make me smile. They recently did just that – by sending me some free stuff!

Right before Christmas, I received a small package from Moo. Odd, because I hadn’t ordered anything from them. What was in it? Some blank cards and envelopes. Designed by Rob Lowe (not the movie actor).

The note that came with the package said this: “Did you know you’re one of MOO’s best customers?” My best guess is that they thanked all their 2014 customers by sending stuff out to them.

Pretty nice of them. And sorta cool, too. I know I’m NOT one of their best customers. I’ve ordered some business cards from them … a couple of times. Nothing more!

And yet, the way they treat their customers – like you really are one of their best customers – is refreshing.

And makes me want to buy from them again.

So … do we work on delighting our customers? I’m not sure. If we work really hard at having the best, newest books in the library, or having the fastest internet, or setting up a new bookmobile stop … that’s not customer delight. That’s business as usual. Delight comes from something unexpected, and these types of things are something our customers expect. All good things – just not something that warrants customer delight.

If you really, truly worked harder in 2015 on delighting your customers … what three things would you focus on?

Hmm… I’ll have to think on that one myself.

Should you Focus on People without Library Cards?

If you haven’t seen it yet, go read Bobbi Newman’s article on Why Libraries Should Look Beyond Library Card Ownership as a Measure of Support. Bobbi sometimes has a slightly different perspective than me, so her articles make me think.

I left a comment on her post that said this:

Yes … but. It’s also a problem of simple marketing. We aren’t offering something those people want, so they don’t use the library.
Perhaps we should ask them about their information/entertainment/distraction needs, and see if we can meet those?

I wanted to expand that thought a bit more – hence this article! The point that hit me in Bobbi’s post was her last paragraph:

Rather than focusing on the percentage of the community that has a library card, libraries would be better off focusing on public support of the library and accepting that some people don’t use the library for one reason or another.

Do I agree with that? Well, yes and no. Here’s what I mean.

No, I don’t agree with Bobbi:

First off, for my original response. I think many libraries could get more cardholders simply by:

  1. asking their community what they want, and what’s missing.
  2. Then working hard to provide those things.

That’s basic marketing and promotion, and most of us library types really don’t do marketing and promotion all that well. Figure it out, and you’ll get more cardholders – simple (well, not really simple. But you get my drift). There are definitely “potential cardholders” out there who want your library’s services … they just haven’t yet bothered to get a library card for one reason or another. With a little nudging, they just might get one.

Yes, Bobbi’s right #1:

Then again, focusing on “people who don’t have library cards” is probably NOT the best approach. Your library should have a strategic plan focused on narrower groups of people.

For example, maybe one of your library’s long-range goals is to attract more kids age 5-10 to the library. In this case, who should you target? Certainly not everyone, and not “people without library cards.” Why? Because not all of those people have kids age 5-10.

Instead, you should focus pretty specifically on young parents. Do that well, and you will attract more library card holders … within that targeted group. In the process, you’ll be working towards achieving that long-range goal.

Yes, Bobbi’s right #2:

Or, for something completely different – don’t work too hard on those people who don’t use your services. Instead, why not focus pretty heavily on your current customers? For example, my library has 92,000 or so library card holders. Why not provide those library users with the most awesome library experience ever? Or even narrow that down further to our most engaged customers (those Library Lovers that Bobbie mentions)?

Focus on that top 1% of your most engaged customers, and they will do quite a bit of word-of-mouth marketing for you. Other businesses and brands do this pretty successfully all the time. For example:

  • Lady Gaga focuses on her Little Monsters – her most engaged fans (the top 1% of her audience)
  • Maker’s Mark does a similar thing with their Ambassadors program, focused on their top fans

Here are a couple more articles on that concept:

So … what do you think? What’s your response to Bobbi’s article, and to the Pew Report she mentions?

Photo by Bobbi Newman (perfect for this post!)

We Have a Street Piano!

Have you heard about street pianos? Some cities have taken old upright pianos, refurbished them, had an artist paint them, and have “installed” them in public spaces.

The goal? Let anyone who wants to … play the piano, and share some music – good or bad – with their local community at the same time.

Cool idea!

My library heard about the idea, had a piano donated to us, painted it, and it’s now outside the library, ready for anyone to play. It’s been outside just a few days … I just saw two teens sitting at the piano, wailing away.

Want more info?

Has your library done a similar idea? I’d love to hear about it!

Becoming a Library Customer – Can we Improve that Experience?

Has your library ever really thought about the experience around becoming a library card holder, or worked to improve it?

At most libraries, when someone gets a library card for the first time, here’s what we do: we give the person their library card. We might also hand them a printed list of either “stuff you can do” or “stuff you can’t do ” (i.e., rules, regulations and circulation policies).

Are balloons released? Does anyone celebrate? Does it usher our new customer into some cool, “members-only” club? Do we follow-up with the customer after 3 months or so to see how it’s going? Nope. For most of us, nothing else happens.

What happens with other types of membership cards?

  • Sam’s Club: a membership card gets you members-only discounts.
  • Airline reward programs: earn reward miles. Use it enough, and you can get seating upgrades and trade in miles for flights.
  • Grocery Store Cards: discounts on store purchases and fuel points.
  • Amazon Prime: free, 2-day shipping, movie and tv show streaming, and access to the Kindle ebook Library.

Now back to libraries. Is there something else we can do with a library card to make it more “membership” friendly? Reword that brochure we give out? Check back with our customers after 3 months to see how they’re doing (remember, we have their email address and snail mail address)?

How about give perks for use? For example, if they check out five books, they get that 3-day express movie for a week?

What do you think? Anyone do something special for library card holders that isn’t just “here’s your card, now go check stuff out?”

Image by Leo Reynolds