Perhaps you’ve read one of these books: When Fish Fly, The Starbucks Experience or The New Gold Standard. If you have you have probably obtained a few new ideas about designing a user experience for your library. One thing that you’ll learn from all of these books that is highly relevant to libraries is that it is possible to turn mundane, ordinary transactions – something librarians know about all too well – into memorable experiences. Something else these books have in common is their author, Joseph Michelli.
I had the great opportunity to meet Michelli when I attended the American Library Association Conference in Chicago. Just a few weeks before the conference I learned that the OCLC Symposium on “Leadership Beyond the Recession” (always held on Friday afternoons of every ALA Midwinter and Annual Conference) was having Michelli as their speaker. Having read his works I was glad I’d be in Chicago for the program. I even mentioned it here at DBL, and was surprised when Michelli himself left a comment on the post. It got even better about a week later when OCLC invited me to participate in the program by joining a panel of librarians who would talk about their library user experiences after Michelli completed his presentation. You can view a streaming video of the post-presentation discussion here.
Rather than give you a play-by-play of the talk, I’ll just refer you over to It’s All Good where one of the bloggers (Alice) summarized the presentation. I’ll just bring some attention to one thing that stood out for me – the Experiential Brand Statement. The idea is to create a brand based on the user’s interaction with your product or service – an experiential brand. For the Pike’s Peak Fish Market the experiential brand was “make everyone feel special”. It was just that simple. The folks who worked at the first market sought to make everyone they interacted with feel as though they were world famous. Michelli told us that prior to the experiential brand the Market nearly went out of business. The Ritz-Carlton’s experiential brand is “create the home of a loving parent”. They want all their guests to experience what it feels like to get the special treatment from a parent. And this really interesting article about Darden Restaurants (Olive Garden, Red Lobster, etc) discusses the experiential brands they create. Olive Garden’s experience is to “make you feel like you are joining an Italian family for a meal” and that experiential brand is designed into the décor of the restaurant.
The benefit of developing an experiential brand, as Michelli pointed out, is creating customer loyalty. Fifty percent of customers desert a business because of a bad experience. But customers are three times as likely to be loyal to a business if the customer feels like he or she has a bond with the product or service. So you can’t underestimate the value of creating good relationships that build these bonds. The library workers must be the transforming agents. They must be connected to the EBS. That helps to ensure that every touchpoint in the library will reinforce the EBS.
So what’s a good EBS for your library? I’m working on mine.