What’s Missing?

Ever wanted to know what your customers think is missing from a service point in your library?

There’s an easy way to find out … just ask! Post something that asks “what’s missing?” and start gathering answers. For example:

  • Want to find out what’s missing on your public PCs? Tape a form to the table by each computer and ask for comments.
  • Have a teen room, and you want to find out what’s missing there? Put up a white board that asks “what’s missing?” (and be prepared for some snarky responses. They’re teens, after all).
  • Have a mobile website or app? Do what my library did. The last link on the main page of our mobile Boopsie app is “What’s Missing? Send us a Suggestion.” Clicking that link leads to an email form that gets sent to me. And believe me, people fill that out!
  • Ask through your library’s social media channels.

You can ask a similar “what’s missing” question on a website, in a room of the library, or even in the stacks. The point is this: if you want to make improvements in the library, you need to find out what’s missing … and fix that stuff.

Pic by crdotx

3 Ways to be more Social in Social Spaces

Successful posts in social media spaces like Twitter or Facebook are the more social, friendly posts (at least for my library, anyway). How can you be more “social” in those spaces? here are three ways to do it:

  1. Think “Business Casual.” Anyone like that formal, stilted, edited to the max writing style that appears on brochures and markety emails from businesses? Nope – didn’t think so. That type of language doesn’t help you connect to the organization, does it? So don’t do that. Instead, try to make your photos, videos, blog posts, and status updates more “business causal.” How do you do that? Here’s one way – write like you talk. That way, your posts will naturally sound more conversational. More in the next post!
  2. Ask, then Respond. Ask questions. Ask for input. Ask readers to add their thoughts. For example, if you share a list of five favorite action movies in Facebook, make sure to include a question asking readers to add their favorites, or to add what’s missing in the list. People love adding their own favorites to a list!
  3. Include your customers. So you asked your customers to add their favorites to your list in #2. That’s awesome … and that can be your next post! Compile that list of customer favorites, post it, and include everyone’s name that added to the list. The people you included might share that list out (i.e., an appeal to vanity), and more customers will add to the list, too.

So – those are some ideas to be more social in social spaces. Do you have any additions to this list (yes, I’m doing #2 right now)? Please add them in the comments below!

If you liked this post, you’ll also like my new book, Face2Face: Using Facebook, Twitter, and other Social Media tools to Create Great Customer Connections. Get it now!

My new book - Face2Face: Using Facebook, Twitter, and Other Social Media Tools to Create Great Customer Connections

Image from Bigstock

Share the Right Info

windspeedIf you’ve ever flown on a plane, you’ve probably heard the pilot say something like this: “The wind is blowing south southwest at a speed of 10 miles an hour.” They usually say this like it’s either extremely interesting, or it’s highly useful information that everyone needs to know.

Does anyone really care about that? Does knowing how fast the wind is blowing and what direction it’s coming from really help make your plane ride a better one?

I’m guessing not.

Here’s what I’d much prefer hearing from a pilot: “this is the best plane I’ve ever flown, it should be a smooth ride, and I’ll get you there 15 minutes early.”

And maybe from the flight attendant: “the ginger ale is really yummy today!”

Some organizations share the wrong information. Information that’s inward-facing. Information that’s really important to the organization (i.e., windspeed to a pilot), but not really all that important to the customer. Libraries are certainly guilty of that – anyone ever seen a description of a library database? For example, here’s how Madison Public Library describes EBSCOHost:

EBSCOhost is a collection of databases provided by EBSCO and funded through a statewide contract with BadgerLink.  Most databases reference collections of magazine articles or newspaper articles, each with a different focus.  You may search all databases, or use only the collection that interests you by connecting to individual collections below.  A few EBSCO products, such as the Auto Repair Reference Center, have different search functions and interfaces due to the nature of the content.

This is on their “more info” page. Their more customer-focused description is better (on their main list of databases page):

EBSCOhost includes thousands of indexed magazines, many full-text, for over fifteen years. Magazine coverage ranges from the popular to the academic.

Is this the right info to share with customers? Do either of these descriptions tell customers what they’ll find if they use EBSCOHost? I think the smaller paragraph does. I don’t think the first paragraph says much of interest to a library customer.

And that’s just one example, for one small part of a library’s website. My question – do you do that on your website (I’m sure my library does)? Do you do that in other parts of your organization?

And more importantly – have you asked your customers if you are sharing the right info with them? Something to think about.

photo by Alex Marshall

Ask for Suggestions

Ask for SuggestionsI have been thinking about ways to improve our library’s main Facebook Page. We have come up with some great ideas, but one idea was to simply ask our Facebook-using customers what THEY wanted to see in Facebook.

Here’s what we asked (find the Facebook post here):

“Hey friends, we’re doing an informal poll. What sorts of Facebook updates would you like to see more of from us? We want to hear from you regarding what library stuff you want us to post.”

And here’s what our customers said:

  • kid activities. MY little sister and baby would love more of that.
  • new movies
  • Event updates
  • Kid events!
  • kid events!
  • new e-books
  • New movies and books
  • Kids’ events!!
  • Best seller lists
  • Maybe have a librarian recommendation day, like every Tuesday (or other day) have a book or movie recommended by staff? That way we can get to “know” the staff better and learn about books/movies that we may not of thought of otherwise.
  • I would like to know more about the e-books.
  • Winners of the reading program, it would be nice to actually see they get won, even if it isn’t by me ;)
  • More about the kids events, especially the teen events. Storytimes and Blockbusters get so much notice, but there are a ton of great programs slipping through the cracks!
  • Reminders. Like – don’t forget, sign up for tot time starts tomorrow!
  • Event reminders, and not just for kids events. I knew the rain barrel event was coming up, failed to put it in my planner, and missed it! I was bummed.
  • events for adults and kids
  • Upcoming events!
  • pictures or video shorts of people, exhibits, remodels/moves, staff, art. Something to post that makes the library come alive for us.
  • E- book info.
  • Events and the librarian recommendation is a terrific idea.
  • Love Tiffani’s idea of the recommendation day!

So – more event reminders, more mentions of new stuff, more recommendations from staff. More photos and videos.

Yes, we might have come to this same conclusion if we set up a committee to look into improving our Facebook Page, figured out when everyone could meet, and actually had a discussion on it. But it would have been our best guess. And it probably would have taken us 2-3 weeks – we’re a busy bunch, so meetings are a bit of a logistical challenge :-)

Instead, we gathered these comments, for the most part, in a 3-hour timeframe in one day. And it took us maybe a few minutes to write the Facebook post. And it was from customers.

Question – are you using your organization’s Facebook Page to find out what your Facebook-using customers want to do there? If so, what are you hearing from them?

photo by Sylvain Masson

How YOU Get Permission

Here’s my third post on Getting Permission. In the first post, I covered how I get permission. The second post asked for tips from you guys.

Here’s what you said (from my comments):

  • Chris Freeman: “selling the outcome of the idea as opposed to the “tool” that will create the outcome is helpful. What will be better about our services if we implement this idea rather than “hey, here’s a new idea for us to try”?”
  • Chris also said: “identify who the “informal power brokers” are in the organization. Having an influential person stating support for your plans goes a long way toward swaying those who control whatever resources you need to accomplish your goals.”
  • Michael Casey: “If you can plug your idea into the strategic plan and highlight any efficiencies the idea might offer — either direct financial savings or staff-time savings — then you’re off to a good start.”
  • Genesis Hansen: Don’t just ask for permission to do what you want, offer something in return. Our City Council was very squeamish about letting departments use social media. In order to get myself on our City’s social media policy committee and be allowed to participate in a social media pilot project I compiled a lot of research on social media policies, organized it and sent it to the Committee chair. I also offered to do social media and policy training for other departments in the City. As a result, I was included in the process, got to give input into policy formation (didn’t win every battle, but did win some important ones), and made some valuable contacts in other City departments. And now any department that wants to start using social media will go through training with library staff.
  • Genesis also said: “Always try to demonstrate the tangible benefits your project will offer. If you’re in a place where the powers that be are generally resistant, don’t phrase your request as “this is something cool I want to try” but “I think I know a way to help the library meet this particular service goal, and I’m happy to do the legwork to make it happen.” Make it as easy as possible for your boss to say yes.”
  • ananka: “talk to someone who supports me and my ideas first, bounce it off them. It helps if they have some weight behind them with admin. Sell it to them, work out some of the issues that might arise, then slowly (within reason, depending on the scope of your idea) begin telling others about it, working your way up. Pretty soon they will be asking when your program starts.”
  • David Whelan: “The most important element is to be willing to ask the question. Some of the projects I have started came about because I sat with the decision maker and said, here’s what I want to do, how can I do it? It engages them and it highlights where your plan may need work. So once you’ve asked, be prepared that you may need to ask again. Sometimes a decision maker just need to be asked and you’re good to go.”
  • Lori Reed: “start small. Starting with small projects allows you to prove yourself. So instead of a social media makeover maybe just start with a Facebook page for one branch.”
  • Lori also said: “Now for ideas…you can look outside your organization as a place to grow. The ALA Learning Round Table has allowed me to stretch my wings and gain experience with skills that I could not use (at least not initially) in my day job.”

I also received some great tips from some of you via Twitter, as well (for another post – yes, I set up a hashtag #getpremission. No, I didn’t save the thing anywhere. Yes, I forgot that tweets pretty much disappear after 1 1/2 weeks. Yes, I waited too long to post this – lesson learned. Drat).

Heather at i_librarian said this:

  • 1. Do your homework.Get evidence. Provide WHY it is valid and what it will do for your library. #getpermission @davidleeking (found here)
  • 2. Mock ups, mock ups, mock ups. People need to see what it will look and feel like. Be as concrete as you can. #getpermission @davidleeking (found here)
  • 3. Get buy-in from others who will be affected. 4. Spell out who and how the work will get done #getpermission @davidleeking (found here)

Laura J. Wilkinson said this:

  • Make it easy for your boss to say ‘yes’ to your idea – think it out and manage any risks #getpermission (found here)
  • Make the business case for your idea #getpermission (found here)
  • Identify success criteria and agree a trial period. Monitor, evaluate, review #getpermission (found here)
  • Be prepared to work on your idea on your own time #getpermission (found here)
  • Get the support of someone in authority. Give examples of what similar libraries have done (works well in Oxford!) #getpermission (found here)
  • Make it easy for your boss to say ‘yes’ to your idea – think it out and manage any risks #getpermission (found here)

Did we miss something? Some great tip on how YOU get permission that isn’t here? Please share!

Pic by JanneM