On a + note

There are not enough Margaret Atwood’s to go around! #36: 2011

Posted in on a + note by Admin on October 24, 2011

The speedometer on the Ford 2010 hybrid has a unique little feature called “efficiency leaves.” It is a digital plant that grows or shrivels depending on how economically you are operating the vehicle.  It looks like Pac Man gone organic! This visual display is engaging and rewards you for being environmentally responsible. This recognition is fun and feels good. You are emotionally rewarded, so you continue to drive more responsibly. How good is that!

Using gaming technology such as the animated plant is nothing new; think of the S &H green stamps your Mom likely collected in the 60’s or frequent flier miles. Companies have used gaming rewards as a promotional tool to build brand loyalty and encourage repeat business for decades. However, it is an expensive marketing approach that usually costs the company rather than making it money. The world has changed, and now businesses are using gaming to bridge the online and real world and enter into a two way dialogue with the customers (e.g. user surveys). Ultimately, the company aims to change habits and to give the customer a reason to advocate for the product.

Translate this into library land. How can we turn our customers into our advocates?

  • Simple website surveys are engaging and build community.
  • Reward families who have borrowed 1,000 books. Perhaps it’s a sticker on their library card, a personal invitation to a library program, or open access to Homework Help. Membership has it privileges, and exceptional members should be rewarded!
  • How about a personal email/text message from a local author to library customers at the end of the year?  “Thanks for being a member, and have a great holiday.”
  • Recognize long-time members. My mom (who turned 93 last month) has been an active user of her hometown public library for over 60 years. Not once have they thanked her for her loyalty, shown her how to use an eReader, or even offered to carry her weekly armload of books to the car!

Library land needs to embrace and build customer loyalty. Using gaming technology and simple good customer service are the most effective ways to reach out and connect. Recently, the best example of reaping the benefits of great customer service has to be Toronto Public Library and their efforts to protect their budget. It was gaming technology, great customer loyalty, and one feisty author to turn around this train wreck.

However, there are not enough Margaret Atwood’s to go around! Now is the time to have that conversation with staff about how your library can reach out digitally, build customer loyalty, make a sustainable action plan, and begin the process of building advocates. In Toronto’s case, it made all the difference.

Hurray for library lions…or is that lionesses?

Kitty Pope
kpope@library.guelph.on.ca                                                                 #37 October 2011


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