In September, Designing Better Libraries blog posted Customers and the Future of Innovation based on a report from the consulting firm Arthur D. Little, titled "The Future of Innovation Management: The Next 10 Years" -- both which provide excellent food for thought!
Some libraries struggle to maintain relationships with customers as electronic and other resources seek to gather customers to a flashier, quicker, easier means of obtaining information. The Little Group proposed there are 5 innovation management concepts that should be considered:
Proactive business model innovation
High speed/low rick innovation
While all of these concepts are important as libraries strive for sustainability -- my thoughts center on Customer-Based Innovation as a key for creating libraries as a community anchor. Consider the following:
1. Total Customer Experience -- building deeper relationships with the customer is something we have the ability and opportunity to do -- every day. Taking that extra minute to listen, to assist -- in a hurry-scurry world will go far in building brand loyalty.
2. Value Added Experience -- once again, through displays, activities, and programming libraries can readily use this approach to appeal to end-users. We need to be constantly aware of the changing community to successfuly address the needs of the users.
3. Flexible Customer Interaction. As our customers become more-sophisticated, as the technology tools change -- we must respond likewise. Our responses should be postive -- not that we can't do it -- rather -- this is great opportunity for us to learn together. We may not know how to use the most recent technology tool -- however, we have the skills and information to transfer previous knowledge to new situations. Focusing on Alvin Toffler's quote of "to remain relevant, it is important to be able to learn, unlearn and relearn," we need the flexibility to assist customers as needed, showing how previous skills can readily transfer to new tools.(transliteracy)
4. Employee Engagement. Libraries need to design all their 'touchpoints' to support engagement with the customer, 'so the role of the employee becomes key to delivery.' Customers shouldn't feel like they are interrupting staff to ask a question -- staff need to be accessible and open to engagement any time throughout their work period.
Can libraries "link strategy, innovation, product, customer experience and employee engagement?" If they can, they will effectively shift their status within their individual community to that of "community anchor."