Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Tackling the Omnichannel Experience with Customer Journey Mapping

Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Tackling the Omnichannel Experience with Customer Journey Mapping

Article excerpt

Whether it's the web, smartphones, Facebook, or the Internet of Things (IoT), library web managers are learning about new technologies and helping libraries adopt and adapt new tech to create great services. Sometimes, changes are obvious, while others evolve over time. Take smartphones as an example. When library users switched to smartphones, libraries built mobile sites or mobile-friendly sites. While it's true today that not all libraries have mobile-friendly sites, there's nary a web manager who doesn't know that being mobile-friendly is essential.

But something else happened along with the introduction of smartphones and tablets. Users went from having one internet-capable device to having multiple ones, both at work and home--some constantly in hand. This has created an interplay among users' devices, locations, and channels, resulting in a need to rethink services and service delivery in libraries. Your users are experiencing the library in physical spaces, in digital spaces that you own (such as the library website), and in digital spaces that you don't own (including social media and vendor websites)--and may possibly not like.

Libraries are aware of the multichannel environment and are responding by trying to create content once and reuse it across channels. This is a great first step. But our users are demanding more. They are charging ahead and expecting experiences that cater to their device capabilities and location/channel. Users want services that simplify and optimize their experience in using the library so they can move as frictionlessly as possible back and forth in the omnichannel environment.

Let's look at a simple example. While riding the train, Joe receives an email notice that a book is due soon. On the spur of the moment, Joe browses the library's mobile site and searches on his phone. Before he finishes, the train arrives at his stop. Later that evening, he opens his laptop and goes to the library. What is Joe's experience like? Option A: Joe has to start over from scratch. Option B: Fortunately, the library recognizes Joe is back and shows options for his last search results and selected items. This example shows how using the library is about all of the users' touchpoints and how they fit together (or not).

While businesses have made deep investments in designing with the new landscape of devices, as well as locations and channels, in mind by creating omnichannel experiences, libraries haven't started or have just taken first steps. Part of the reason libraries are slow to tackle omnichannel design approaches is due to existing organizational structures and processes for service design. Most libraries have teams focused on a specific project (such as renovating spaces, designing new programs for adult tech training, improving the discovery layer, or redoing the library website). Each of these focuses on only one aspect of the customer's experience.

Many libraries, for many of their digital services, are in "just make it work" mode. They're legacy systems that don't talk to other systems or old, custom-developed solutions that can't be ported to new systems--and the list goes on and on. Just making it work is essential. It's functional. But what about making it compelling or delightful? We'll never know where we are on this spectrum unless we put ourselves in the users' shoes and experience our products and services--online and off--from their perspective.

Another reason libraries may not be moving as quickly as businesses is a lack of resources. Some libraries are struggling to make their content mobile-friendly. Others haven't redistributed their resources from traditional brick-and-mortar services to online/digital delivery, even though online visits outstrip physical ones for most libraries. While making additional resources magically appear is not in our toolbox, we can use existing ones to build teams that are effective in designing for omnichannel strategies and services. …

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