Just Passing Through

You may be unfamiliar with Seth Godin.

Most people might refer to him as a marketing guru, but he has a lot more to share beyond marketing. For example, this insight about how easy it is to fail to deliver a high quality user experience.

He called this post, “Just Passing Through”:

Older guy walks into the service area on the parkway and asks one of the staff, “do you have a pay phone? My car broke down and I need to call my daughter.”


The staff person, killing time by checking his cell phone, is confused. He’s not sure what a pay phone is, then he figures it out, and says, “no,” before going back to his phone.

It never occurs to him to hand the phone to the man so he can make a call.


Every one of his customers is just passing through, no need to care.


Of course, at one level, all of us are just passing through.

From a more practical, business level, the ease of digital connection means that it’s more and more unlikely that you can be uncaring or mistreat people and not be noticed.

But most of all, life is better when we act like we might see someone again soon, isn’t it?

That phrase “passing through” caught my attention because we have many people passing through Paley Library and Tuttleman. Many of them are just passing through on the way to another destination. On any given day any student may stop at a service desk. Do we think of them as just passing through or is it an opportunity to build a relationship through a high quality user experience?

Many people pass through the library. Not all are Temple affiliates. A non-temple guest stopped at the desk and I could see she was somewhat exasperated. She had a child with her. She wanted to know how she could scan a job application and send it to an employer. Our scanners require an account to access the computers. All the computers were in use. I didn’t want to just say “sorry, but I can’t help you”. She was trying to cope with an impending deadline.

All I could think of was to guide her in using her phone camera to capture the document image, and then email the image to her own account where she could then forward it on to the employer. She felt relieved to have a way to accomplish her task.

Before she left, still holding the child, she put out one hand for me to shake, and as we did she thanked me. I was glad I didn’t just let her pass through even though she was a guest rather than a student. Perhaps she will enroll at Temple in future. Perhaps we will have an opportunity to build a relationship.

Even though we have many people just passing through it strikes me as a good idea, when working with those who do stop for help, to believe they will be back soon – and they will do so because their library experience was worth repeating.

Five Questions You Can Ask About Our Library User’s Journey

You may recall attending, at our 2012 Public Services Retreat, an afternoon workshop on Customer Journey Mapping. We divided up into teams and tackled two specific journeys that our community members regularly take as they navigate our library environment. Half of us worked on the journey faculty travel to put materials on e-reserves. The other half worked on the journey traveled to retrieve a scholarly article. Our workshop facilitator was James Moustafellos, a faculty member is the Fox School MIS Department. For many of us it was an eye-opening experience to see that as our users took these journeys they encountered multiple pain points. With respect to e-reserves, migrating to ARES has eliminated many of these pain points as it is now much easier for faculty to put items on e-reserve and for students to locate these items.

Though we often lack the time to get together for these types of workshops where we can spend a few hours mapping the journeys and analyzing them (and don’t forget we all needed to spend a few hours gathering data and artifacts in advance of the workshop), there may be something each of us can do on a regular and individual basis to adopt a customer journey mindset as we go about our work. It involves a process of asking yourself five questions, while you attend to your day-to-day activities, about our community members’ library journey. According to a blog post at Customer Experience Matters, it may be adequate to integrate what they call “Customer Journey Thinking” into your practice. Here is how they describe it:

Embed thinking about customer journeys into day-to-day decisions across the organization. Employees actively consider why customers are interacting with the organization and think about how those interactions fit within the customers’ broader set of objectives and activities. The goal: Encourage every employee to think about customers’ journeys.

It is the first of three levels that make up the Customer Journey Mapping Pyramid. It involves asking yourself five questions related to your transactions and interactions with community members. These questions are included in the Pyramid figure below:

Figure illustrates the Customer Journey Pyramid

There are three levels in the CJM Pyramid and Five Questions in Level One – CJM Thinking

One way to think of it is to become a reflective thinker about your interactions with students, faculty, alumni, guests and others. What happened? Could it have gone better? What will I do to improve next time? The five questions can help take you through the reflection process.

Who is the community member? Start by recognizing that different segments of our community have different needs. Consider who that person is before thinking about their specific journey.

What is the community member’s real goal? Why was the person using the library and what brought them to you. To understand how that community member views an interaction and what’s shaping their expectations, you need to think about what they are really trying to accomplish?

What did the customer do right before? The patron may be contacting you now, but it is probably part of a longer journey. So you need to think about where they’ve been prior to the interaction in order to understand how they will respond to an interaction with library.

What will the community member do right afterwards? When patrons interact with us it’s almost never the last step on their journey. So we need to think about what they will do next to understand how to best help them.

What will make the community member happy? Rather than just aiming to satisfy customers’ basic needs, think about what it will take to provide each person you encounter with the most positive experience–given what we know about their real goals and their entire journeys.

Taking time to think through interactions with community members – being reflective about the exchange whether brief or time consuming – may help each of us to better observe where the pain points in their journey occur. We can then work together to eliminate those pain points, improve that journey and help build a better overall library experience.

If you think there may be value in doing more in depth customer journey mapping projects, please let me know.

A Great Customer Experience Story

Sometimes we receive extraordinary service – when we least expect it – and that’s what makes it so memorable.

Here is a story of just such an experience.

Pull quote:

Customer service is no longer about telling people how great you are. It’s about producing amazing moments in time, and letting those moments become the focal point of how amazing you are, told not by you, but by the customer who you thrilled. They tell their friends, and the trust level goes up at a factor of a thousand. Think about it: Who do you trust more? An advertisement, or a friend telling you how awesome something is?

One Mission: Provide the Best Customer Service Possible

I came across this quote that comes from a leading organization in the field of customer experience excellence:

At Zappos they state that, “Customer service isn’t just a department. We’ve been asked by a lot of people how we’ve grown so quickly, and the answer is actually really simple… We’ve aligned the entire organization around one mission: to provide the best customer service possible.”

To me this speaks to the importance of having the entire organization, regardless of where one works or what one’s specific responsibilities are, focused on the design of and delivery of a great customer experience.

From: “The Changing Role of Marketing

NY Times Article on Pret A Manger

Passing along this article about promotion, motivation and customer service systems at a UK/US fast food shop.  I wish I had bonus money or iPods to hand out to the folks who support me everyday.  
But, does anyone see a downside?  Could this foster resentment in staff that are never rewarded?  

Sharing Two Useful Readings on Customer Service and UX

A great way to learn more about user experience and how to apply it in practical settings is to delve into the abundant literature that is available on the Internet. There are many essays and blog posts on the subject – as there are lots of “experts” sharing their perspectives. In this post I would like to suggest two such readings – and a bonus reading for those who want to go a little farther.

A good starting point is the “User Experience White Paper“. It’s somewhat generic and broad, but it should provide a broad overview of what we mean by user experience, both as a phenomenon and a practice. The authors write that “the term user experience is widely used but understood in many different ways…There is no one definition that suits all perspectives.” So true. Even the list of what UX is not is helpful especially that “UX is not technology driven, but focuses on humans.” Even more true.

While it’s a bit heavy on the business orientation, it is worth taking a look at “7 Principles of Extraordinary Customer Experiences.” I think there may be something to principle number 5: Make it easy for your customers to strike up conversations, communicate with one another, and share information. It’s a challenge but are there ways we could get our community members to talk with each other about their research projects and their challenges. And how would we incorporate principle number 7 into our practice?: The key to delivering an extraordinary customer experience is placing the customer at the center your marketing strategy—through content that educates, inspires and connects in whatever medium and through whatever channels your customers live. That seems to be close to what we try to accomplish.

If you want to go beyond these two readings, a longer and more involved discussion of user experience can be found at “User Experience and Experience Design” by Marc Hassenzahl. It’s billed as a chapter in an encyclopedia, but I’m not sure which one that is. If you decide to take this one on be sure to look at the comments as well.

Library Staff Join for a Retreat Follow-Up

On January 14, 2011 staff members from various departments gather in the Paley Library lecture hall for the first follow-up to the July 2010 Public Services Retreat. Approximately 25 staff gathered for the meeting. There were four activities duirng the meeting.


First, we heard three lightning talks. A lighting talk is a very fast presentation. Each presenter was allowed only 4 minutes for their presentation. We heard from:

* John Pell – Negative Closure: Strategies and Counter-Strategies in the Reference Transaction

* Kathy Lehman – What is a Guest

* Rick Lezenby – A Complaint is a Gift: Recovering Customer Loyalty When Things Go Wrong

All three of the lightning talks were excellent and lead to some questions and good dicussion.

Next the group viewed a 15 minute video in which Joe Michelli, a user experience expert and author of books about the user experience at Starbucks, Ritz Carlton and other businesses, discussed how libraries can develop a unique user experience. He focused on something called the “Experiential Brand Statement” which basically states what type of experience is delivered. If you want to review the video or watch it for the first time you will find it here.

For the third activity the attendees organized into small groups and review a set of “next steps” from the first retreat. That is, what actions were recommended as next steps to follow up on the retreat and to keep the momentum going. Here were the top suggestions for what our next steps should be:

* Create a blog where staff can share their ideas related to customer service, user experience or retreat ideas (thus – this blog)

* Have occasional one hour meeting to discuss service issues, watch a related video or hear from a Skype speaker

* Appoint a “Broken Things Czar” who is tasked with identifying or collecting information about things that are not working and to work on getting them corrected

* Continue discussions about cross-training with the goal of making sure library users are never more than one person away from getting what they need

* Keep the discussion going on “How do we find out what the users want?”

For the fourth and final activity, Steven Bell introduced the “Capture Your Ideas” Project. To get started we watched this short video about the importance of writing down good ideas when you get them:

After watching the video, everyone received their own personal copy of a notebook for recording their great ideas. Here is a photo of the notebook:


Everyone will focus on ideas in three areas:
* Things you get ideas from when you listen to library users (e.g., complaints, questions, etc.)
* Things you observe by watching library users, particularly things they are doing in the library that are unexpected * Things that are broken
* Any general library-related ideas

At a future meeting we will bring and notebooks and share our ideas. If you didn’t get a copy of the notebook, but would like to obtain one, please contact Steven Bell. It didn’t take very long for the first idea to emerge. Kathy Lehman and Melanija Borlja recommended that we provide some of our student workers with idea notebooks so that they too could be a part of the project – and they are often the ones who observe and hear student behavior in public service areas. The retreat follow-up provided a good opportunity to keep the spirit of the first public services retreat alive in the library. Many thanks to all those who helped to plan the retreat follow-up and to everyone who particiapted. Be on the lookout for an evaluation survey.

Welcome to the TULibrary Experience Blog

On Friday, January 14, 2011 staff members gathered for the first follow-up meeting to the Public Services retreat held in July 2010. The meeting included lightning talks, a video viewing and discussion, a “next steps” discussion and the “Capture Your Ideas” project.

During the “next steps” activity the group identified several top options for how to keep our retreat discussions going and allow staff to engage in that discussion. One of the preferred next steps was to create a blog specifically for the public services retreat discussion and topics. That discussion resulted in the creation of this blog.

All staff are invited to participate in the TULibrary Experience Blog. Any staff member may add content on a topic related to the public retreat (and follow-up) conversations on user experience, customer service and service models. Share reflections, ideas, links to readings, etc.

If you already have an account for adding content to any TUL blog (e.g., TULibraries Insider Blog) you should see this new blog under your blog options. If not, let Steven Bell know and he will follow up on getting an account set up for you.

Enjoy the TULibrary Experience Blog. Let’s use it to create a better library experience for the Temple University community.