March 16, 2006

Beware of Dissatisfied Consumers: They Like to Blab

Knowledge @ Wharton talks about marketing from, naturally, a business perspective, but this podcast has lots of implications for libraries, too.

Some folks at Wharton conducted a "Retail Customer Dissatisfaction Study" which found that "... only 6% of shoppers who experienced a problem with a retailer contacted the company, but 31% went on to tell friends, family or colleagues what happened."

So if our patrons are dissatisfied with the library, not only won’t they not let us know, they’ll tell their friends and their friends will effectively be dissatisfied with the library, too. "Paula Courtney, president of The Verde Group, says the exponential power of negative word-of-mouth lies in the nature of storytelling."

Courtney later talks about how the customer (patron?) wants to save time, and many retailers prevent this by "jamming stores with inventory that overwhelms customers and cuts into the time they have to shop." Would this be comparable to libraries? Not because we jam stuff in, but because we make it hard to find – "check the catalog", then "check the electronic journal locator", then search this database – it’s overwhelming for patrons, and we’re jamming it in their faces.

Nothing new, in a way, but it’s good to be reminded of this sober lesson.

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