Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Make smart services

The latest installment of KnowThis.com's Principles of Marketing is now here. The Product Decisions tutorial teaches you how to design smart services for your customers/patrons. While the tutorial seems to focus on tangible products, there are important lessons for services here too. As I see it, here are the biggies:

  • Categories of Consumer Products - Library services fall under one of a number of product categories, the exact one depends on how the patron perceives the service. I'm guessing that for most patrons, library services tend to be unsought. In other words, people don't seek us out until they need to (kind of like insurance). This means that our promotion should aim to pursuade, educate and remind people of what we do. Getting to people at their time and place of need is also important.

  • Components of a product - The basic lesson to learn here is that patrons desire a whole package of benefits from our services. They seek the service itself plus extras like friendly assistance, and they also want some kind of psychological benefit. (For our students here, it may be a sense of relief that they've found enough articles for their papers, for example). Therefore, if we can get a better sense of what patrons really want when they approach us, we can be better prepared to fulfill their needs on these multiple levels.

Often, well-designed services can sell themselves, so investing more in service design from the get-go can save you time and energy on the promotional end later. Plus, no one is fooled by a bad product. Good products will keep patrons coming back for more.

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