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21 Mar 2008 / Julie

Getting customers to conform, or not.

I’m full of blog today so I figured I’d strike while the iron… well you know.

So I was at a state library association division meeting last week when, during break, I overheard two women (librarians, clearly) complaining how the customer didn’t understand they had gone to the wrong county library system for what they needed.

CountyA Librarian: She came in asking for a dog permit for [CountyB]. When I said she needed to go back to CountyB to get the right form, she said, “I was told to go to the library. I’m at the library. What’s the problem?”

So here’s my beef with that- regardless of whether the librarian who helped that customer was nice and explained the situation, they still ended up complaining about them behind their backs, saying, “They just don’t get it!”

How about, instead of making our customers conform to our thinking, we conform to theirs? Businesses who don’t do what their customers want, ultimately fail. I know there’s a struggle in LibraryLand around thinking about libraries as businesses, but regardless of if we turn a profit or not, we are still a business and we need to run like one.

How about making sure your forms are online, available whenever, wherever so that CountyB customer could have gotten CountyB forms at CountyA Library when they were there (because clearly, CountyA Library was more convenient for them at the time).

Or, if i may be so bold/crazy, perhaps we need a national library system with local control and flavor. Yes, localities know their consumer base best, but if we all pooled our resources and whatnot, I think we’d be able to serve our customers a lot easier / better.

Just my $0.02. :-)

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