My Trip to the Apple Store

My Poor, Cracked iPhoneA few weeks ago, I dropped my iPhone and cracked the screen (see accompanying picture of my poor iPhone).

I don’t use a smartphone case (I know, I know), but I also haven’t dropped my phone in 8 years. So I was bummed.

Oh well – time to visit the Apple Store! I found out that they’ll replace your broken iPhone screen (for $109+tax). That was cheaper than other smartphone-fix-it places in town, so I decided to go for it (after pieces of screen started flaking off in my pocket).

Here’s what happened during my trip to the Apple Store.

First, finding information on Apple’s website about the repair process was really easy to do. At Apple’s website, you simply click Support, then iPhone, then Repair. Then choose the huge button that says “Screen Damage” (guess I’m not the only one who drops their phone).

I love what this page says: “Accidents happen. Sometimes a screen can get cracked or shattered. We’re here to help.”

After that, I was able to choose Make an Appointment. The only bad thing about that is that there are no Apple Stores in Topeka, KS. So I drove about an hour to the Kansas City area, and visited the Leawood, KS store.

Interrupting my own story for a sec. So far, my “visit” has been online, and it has been excellent. No clicking around, no confused hunting for stuff. Nothing worded weird or lingo-y. Everything made sense, and I was quickly able to follow the trail to my “destination” – the “Make an Appointment” page.

And they reassured me about dropping my phone by saying “accidents happen … we’re here to help.”

OK – back to the story. The in-store experience was just as good.

When I was about 5 feet from the store entrance, I received a notification (see the image) welcoming me to the store, reminding me about my Genius Bar reservation, and telling me what to do next (check in).

Remember my articles awhile back about iBeacon technology? Apple Stores use it, so I was able to see it in action.

On the other side of the door was an Apple Store employee, ready to greet me and help me figure out what to do next (i.e., check in). Once checked in, I browsed around the store for awhile … and then another Apple Store employee was able to find me (via my iPhone – iBeacons in use again).

She walked me through the process, took my phone …. and told me it would be a 2 hour wait (it was a really busy Saturday at the Apple Store!). So I goofed off at a nearby Guitar Center for awhile (and played a sweet bass guitar), then went back to the Apple Store.

My phone was ready, so yet another Apple Store employee brought my iPhone out to me, made sure it worked fine, and then helped me pay, right where I was. I didn’t have to go stand in a line.

My iPhone is back to normal. Yay!

Here’s what I noticed. At the Apple Store, the experience was built around me:

  • I received a reminder about my appointment right at the door.
  • I was greeted by a friendly Apple Store employee.
  • Apple Store staff were easy to find, because they all wore matching blue shirts.
  • I could browse around the store until they were ready, and then they found me.
  • When it was time to pay, I paid right where I was. I didn’t have to stand in a line or go up to a check out counter.
  • The website provided a similar experience – it was designed to move me to the information I needed, when I needed it.
  • And of course, they did pretty much everything using an iPad. Without an attached keyboard.

I think libraries should be more like this! Think through my story, and compare it to your library:

  • Are your customers greeted at the door?
  • Are your staff easy to find, or do they blend in?
  • Do staff approach customers, or do customers have to approach staff and a desk to get help?
  • When ready to check out, can customers do it anywhere, or do they have to stand in a line or approach a desk?
  • How about your website? Is it designed to move customers to the right place at the right time, with the best information? Or is it more of a jumbled mess of information and services?

No, I’m not necessarily suggesting that libraries buy matching shirts for everyone. But I DO think we can learn a thing or two from the Apple Store. And I think we can make our in-library and on-the-website experiences better than they are now.

Serving People Who are Different Than You

Crafting the Customer Experience for People Not Like YouI just read the book Crafting the Customer Experience For People Not Like You: How to Delight and Engage the Customers Your Competitors Don’t Understand, by Kelly McDonald (that is one long title!).

I read it around the same time I attended ALA’s annual conference in San Francisco. There was a lot of discussion about diversity, as there always is at a library conference. Which is awesome.

When we talk about diversity at one of those events, usually “diversity” means minorities, gender, and sexual preference.

This book had a slightly different take on that. Kelly says this (on page 7): “I define diversity as “any way that I can be different from you.” For example, if you have kids and I don’t, we’re likely to have different priorities and face different pressures. Your entire focus shifts when you become a parent, because it has to. Parents think about and evaluate everything differently from people who aren’t parents. But that difference has nothing to do with race, ethnicity, age, or even gender; it simply has to do with whether or not you have children.”

Then Kelly goes on to talk about the customer experience, both physically and online (primarily through social media), and discusses serving “people not like you.” She includes generational differences, women and families, Hispanics/Latinos, different racial and ethnic communities, and GLBT customers.

I really appreciated this slightly tweaked explanation of diversity, since I’m usually the white married dude sitting in a large sea of women talking about creating a more diverse workforce in libraries. Just sayin :-)

So – interesting book. Give it a spin!

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!)