Keep ‘em Coming Back For More

Little things make a difference.


I got my hair cut today at Gentleman’s Top Option today in Burlington Vermont. Normally I’m the sort of guy who goes for the no frills, ten dollar hair cut. But I’d gotten a string of bad ones and I was sick of looking (more) like a goon. So under a recommendation from a good friend I tried a new place and I’m never looking back.

The reason? The experience was so much better. First I got a much better haircut — it was a better product. For some reason things just seem better when you have a haircut that you like. Second, the experience of getting the haircut was superior. At GTO I got my hair shampooed and my head massaged. I got a hot towel and a straight razor shave on my neck. At my last ten dollar haircut, the barber talked about his gout. Seriously.

It seems to me that a product that people want paired with a meaningful, memorable, pleasant experience will keep folks coming back. So, how do libraries do something like this? We have products people want: web access, books, DVDs, help with research (it’s different for every library). Now how do we deliver those products in a meaningful way and create an experience that will make people keep coming back?

I think some of it has to do with the very personal service we deliver. Sometimes it is something simple like a smile or going a little above and beyond to find some piece of information. It could be something like offering food during finals week to keep people’s energy up. But I think a lot of it has to do with the service and caring that you are giving to patrons.

What do you think? How doing we create experiences that make people want to come back, and maybe even recommend our service to others?


People Want to Feel Special

Image from svale on Flickr

Image from svale on Flickr

In a previous post I talked about creating a great experience for patrons. But how do we go about doing that? In addition to getting them great information, how do we make them want to keep coming back to the library for an experience they can’t get other places?

Thinking back on good experiences I’ve had lately, I’ve noticed a common thread: I was made to feel special.

Last week I was sitting at a bar watching the Twins.  The bartender remembered me from another night (when I was watching the Vikings), and he asked me if I wanted my usual. The fact that he remembered me made the experience stand out. It made it special. Sure it made my order slightly quicker, but  I was no longer just another customer. I was a real person who he remembered interacting with and wanted to help. It’s like walking into Cheers and everybody knowing your name.

Another good experience happened last Saturday morning. I went out to breakfast with a friend to Penny Cluse Cafe because others had highly recommended it. I waited for an hour to be seated (something I have never done for breakfast), and it was completely worth it.

When we were seated we felt special (it was OUR turn). After ordering, there were three different people who warmed up our coffee, smiling and bantering while doing so. In fact, everyone in the place was smiling. They had created an atmosphere that was completely positive and welcoming. The food was simple but very delicious. Much better than many breakfast places I’ve been.

It was a solid product (the actual food) combined with making the customer feel special (in this instance happy because of the positive environment) that made for a perfect dining experience.

How can we replicate this for libraries? How do we make our patrons feel good, smart, happy, special, etcetera? How do we make people wait in line for our services and tell all their friends about us?