Journal clubbing – Exploring Customer Engagement for Deeper Relationships

We had the latest round of our team journal club last week.  The paper this time was

Bettina Peacemaker & Jill Stover Heinze (2015) Moving Users, Moving
Results: Exploring Customer Engagement for Deeper Relationships, College & Undergraduate
Libraries, 22:3-4, 261-272, DOI: 10.1080/10691316.2015.1081084

This proved to be a great discussion starter.  It examines the research around customer engagement in the business literature and places this in the context of seeking to increase engagement in the academic library environment.

While the language is firmly in the “customer” model it was easy to look beyond this to the arguments being advanced about collaboration and engagement.  The model in libraries has frequently been one of “Here is the beautiful service that (as experts) we have designed for you – enjoy” followed by disappointment at uptake.  We have increased our openness to feedback for the things we provide in this way we have not always moved far from this model.  Business process management models can also drive us towards there being a right way for something to be done to match our work flows.  Are these approaches going to drive engagement and partnership?

I was interested in the idea that the experiences people have with us drive emotion that in turn fuels engagement.  Our libraries can be places of very big highs and lows – there are days where people will feel we have saved their life or ruined it.  Powerful things happen around us!

We explored how we might better work with the information we have about users and non users to better communicate with them. I heard about an interesting example in public libraries lately where they wrote to all the people who had not visibly used the service for a year saying “we miss you” and it drove a big return of uptake from the targeted group.  There is also the question of how much time we spend working with those who are already engaged versus those who are not.  Generally we need to do more with the information we already gather from activity and feedback.

A big theme of the paper is the need to cocreate services and to engage people with a view to addressing their problems rather than focussing on our own agenda.  Reading lists is a live topic at present and was highly illustrative of the potential for a different approach that might takes us forward faster in the end.

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