Use the Front Door

A front door in Delft

If your library’s like mine, you have staff-only ways to access library stuff … things like employee parking, a staff-only entrance, a back-end way to access the library catalog, etc. Whenever I put a book on hold, I get it delivered via inter-office mail.

I never have to use the library like a patron if I don’t want to!

My question – is this a good thing?

Try using your library like a patron. Is it easy or hard? Is there something that frustrates you about the whole process? It’s probably doing the same thing to your patrons.

Here’s a thought – maybe we should create a “Work Like a Patron” week, where we only use the library like our customers do – use your library’s wifi (bonus points for using a Public PC), search using the patron version of your catalog, maybe even sit at those lovely desks in the library. Or hang out in a cafe, accessing all work- and library-related stuff from outside of the building. Use the front door, and see the library through your patrons’ eyes.

This works for the IT department, too. Use library employee tools like … library employees, rather than like IT dudes and dudettes. Is it hard? If so … it’s probably hard for the rest of the library, too. Make it work for everyone!

If it works wonderfully, great! If not, maybe you have some things to improve.

New Presentation: Creating Community Experience Using Mostly Free Stuff and Staff

Here’s the Slideshare version of a presentation I did for Proquest at the ALA MidWinter 2011 meeting. It was a fun presentation to do – I was experimenting with creating recurring themes throughout the presentation, and working on my transitions.

I think it worked well. Enjoy!

It’s the Experience that Matters – Notes from a ULC Webinar

I attended an Urban Libraries Council webinar on the customer experience today – it was good! Here are some of my notes from the session.

Speaker – Melanie Huggins, Richland County Public Library

Stuff I found interesting…

Definitions:
User Experience (UX) – interaction between technology and humans
Customer Experience (CxP) – all aspects of a customer’s interaction with an organization, its product and services

Think about the whole interaction – the before, during, and after – that’s the customer experience.

6 laws of customer experience:

1. Every interaction creates a personal reaction
– An experience designed for everyone satisfies no one. You need to optimize for a specific set of customers (ie., use personas)

2. People are instinctively self-centered
– don’t sell things – help customers buy them
– don’t show your corporate underpants

3. Customer familiarity breeds alignment
– think of your company as a large production crew making the stars (front-line employees) shine on stage (during customer interactions) – nice thought!

4. Unengaged employees don’t create engaged customers

5. Employees do what is measured, incented, and celebrated
– me – ok. “encented” is a silly word.
– don’t just expect staff to do the right things. Instead, clearly define good behaviors.
– watch for mixed messages

6. You can’t fake it!
– it has to be top priority to be successful
– advertise to reinforce, not create, positioning (ie., job ads)

Definition of brand: a customer’s gut feeling about a product, service, or organization.

Good stuff!

Rethinking the 3rd Place

I had a conversation with my supervisor (Rob Banks, Deputy Director of Operations at the library) a couple days ago, and thought it was worth sharing with y’all.

We were talking about our impending website redesign (yes, we’re at it again). I had sent him a rough draft of my redesign plan, and we were talking through it. He had been reading my book on digital experiences, and that had fired off some really cool thoughts about the concept of 3rd place for him… here’s what he said that made us start thinking:

“It’s not 3rd place – it’s The Place:”

  • Typically, Rob has maybe 6 windows open on his computer while at work – email,   a couple of work documents he’s working on, TweetDeck (ok – does YOUR deputy director have TweetDeck open constantly? Just sayin), and a couple of websites – usually including Facebook.
  • He’s doing several things at the same time … but Facebook is always on, and he’s always connected to his Facebook friends.
  • When he’s not at work, Rob has a Blackberry with a Facebook app – so Facebook is always on there, too. He can connect to Facebook whenever he wants to, no matter where he is.
  • Rob can still be in his physical “3rd place” and (important point) STILL BE CONNECTED to Facebook and his friends.
  • And that’s the idea that needs to be translated over to our library’s digital branch.

Our library websites/digital branches will probably never be a real 3rd place to people – and that’s ok. Instead of working towards that, let’s work harder to make this now-old phrase, “be where the patrons are,” a bit more seamless.

good bookRob can be in his 3rd place – but he is also constantly connected to friends/colleagues/family in Facebook at the same time. Facebook, in a way, has transcended the 3rd place to be “The Place.” It’s always on, always available to him, when he wants to be there.

Our library websites/digital branches can be like this, too! So… still developing, but this is definitely going in the redesign plan.

Thoughts? How are you “always there, always on” when patrons want to reach you?

Photo by javaturtle

Experience Economy Goes by Many Names

Experience is called many thingsJoseph Pine and James Gilmore noticed this thing they called the Experience Economy. They think we’ve moved beyond purchasing mere goods and services – now, we can purchase “experiences” (hence, the experience Economy). In their newest book, they blend the idea of experience with something they call Authenticity.

But Experience or the Experience Economy isn’t the only thing this notion is called – this post will introduce you to some other similar terms.

For example, when I read their book, I didn’t see much in the way of website experience. Certainly, the underlying ideas were there, but no concrete examples were given (it was written in 1999, so I’ll give them a break). That bugged me enough to write my own book about it, and I called the website version of it the Digital Experience.

Rohit Bhargava, who writes the Influential Marketing Blog, comes from a customer engagement and marketing/PR background. In his book Personality Not Included: Why Companies Lose Their Authenticity and How Great Brands Get it Back, he calls it personality. Here’s a quote from the introduction that explains what personality is:

“The theory of Personality Not Included is that personality is the answer. Personality is the key element behind your brand and what it stands for, and the story that your products tell to your customers. Every element of your business, from your interactions with your customers to the packaging of your product is an element of your brand personality, and these are the elements that inspire delight or indifference among your customers. In short, personality matters.”

I heard Jane McGonigal speak last year at SXSWi 2008. She presented on gaming and alternate realities … and called it happiness. Here are some notes I took from her presentation:

Question – are you in the happiness business? Our primary product soon will be happiness… Happiness is the new capital

Four key principles of happiness:

  1. satisfying work to do
  2. experience of being good at something
  3. time spent with people we like
  4. chance to be a part of something bigger

McGonigal’s description of happiness sounds VERY similar to Pine & Gilmore’s description of experience and Bhargava’s description of a company with personality.

Ever heard of Touch Points? It’s sort of like usability … but doesn’t focus primarily on how the thing works. Instead, it focuses on the experience customers have during their interactions with the product or service or website.

Ok, one more. A few years back when Kathy Sierra was still blogging, many of her blog posts focused on this same concept – but she called it enchantment and kicking ass.

See what’s going on?

It’s not quite usability (but lives there). It’s not quite marketing (but it lives there). It’s not quite design (but it lives there too). It’s not quite customer service (yep – lives there). Not quite library 2.0 (even lives there).

There’s a convergence in many different fields right now – gaming, marketing, PR, web design, customer service, etc. – that all have, as their utmost goal, providing the customer with a positive experience … an authentic experience … happiness … attracting them with personality … enchanting them … helping them “kick patootie.” (ok, my wash-your-mouth-out-with-soap upbringing just kicked in – sorry ).

Question – how are you working to enchant your users? Not just meet their information needs … but delight them? Are you providing a positive experience, and if so – how?