Rewards Cards

In two sessions I attended at ILA, the idea of a rewards cards for regular customers was mentioned. I find this idea intriguing. It’s a bit more difficult to implement in libraries due to our “free” product, but what could we do to reward a frequent customer?

Here are a few ideas: longer check out dates, fine forgiveness/waivers, automatically being first on a list for their favorite author’s new book, free coffee. During National Library Card Month some libraries in the Chicago suburbs have been quite successful with a Show us your card program, where local merchants offer discounts and incentives to library card holders. PLA has the “Smartest Card” campaign, but what can we do fulfill the promise of this message? What makes your library card the most valuable card in your wallet?

Seth Godin said, “All real loyalty programs start in the same place: creating an experience or a product that is its own reward. We’re loyal because it makes us feel good, not because we’re being bribed.” (Blog, Jan 18, 2005)

Based on this Godin’s thought it seems we need to work first on what Omar Wassaw said during the 2009 ILA Conference opening session – libraries need improve the physical experience of the library. “The library needs to merchandise the reading experience – we are the public park for your brain.”

Tom Galante, from the Queens Library, talked about (you can listen to the complete podcast) their Blue Sky initiative where they are  re-imagining customer service – looking at policies from a customer focus, getting rid of the word policies (tools instead of rules), empowering the staff with on the spot decision-making and more flexibility by doing a lot of education and training to get staff to understand the values and intent of policy.

It would seem we need to continue to focus on customer experience and perhaps offering rewards doesn’t matter as much as designing a hassle-free user experience. Thoughts?

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