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From the Director - July/August 2014

Dear Readers,
In the last issue, I shared how our experiences as customers are shaped before we even interact with a company or product. For example, before you take that first bite at a restaurant, you’ve been influenced by feedback from others, a website or even the parking lot. Here's a story of how an experience can still be good, even when a part of it is bad.

When my kids were young, my husband and I took them to a restaurant specializing in home cooking.
It was an odd place, located in the suburbs of a busy city, but still trying to have a country, family-friendly feel. It was painted bright colors, sported a porch and even had the word “House” in its name. In addition to a large asphalt parking lot, it was flanked by a manmade pond that attracted ducks and geese of all shapes and sizes. That swampy pond and its inhabitants would entertain our kids while we waited for a table or, if we were lucky enough to get a window seat, distract them from eating their supper altogether. We went to that restaurant more times than I care to recall. It was our first choice when treating our family to a night out. And the food was consistently terrible.

While my husband may disagree on the food quality (I think he always ate the same dish—chicken pan pie, probably), I was always disappointed in what I ordered. I worked my way through the entire menu, trying to find something that didn’t offend me. Yet everything was overcooked, too salty, too dry or sometimes just plain unrecognizable. Pulpy green beans, mushy collards, salty chicken and dried up cornbread. I tried it all, with only modest success with the Eggplant Parmesan (yes, at a country-cooking restaurant). However, the incredible sweet tea was bottomless, the waitresses were unbelievably kind and patient, and the owner often visited the dining room, welcoming each family. And, of course, there were the ducks.

Our then preschool daughter would ask: “Mom, can we go eat at the ducks with the restaurant?” Even as a kid barely out of diapers, she understood what made the customer experience memorable. We all liked wrapping that crumbly cornbread in a napkin and rushing out to feed the overstuffed and slightly aggressive pond dwellers. We always walked to the car (one of us still hungry!) feeling good about the family time we’d spent together, and knowing we’d be back.

Lately, I’ve been thinking and talking a lot about customer experience and what makes customers loyal. There’s a reason why price isn’t the only factor in choosing a grocery store or a gas station. Or why you prefer one online retailer over another when they all sell a similar product. And there’s a reason why you’d return, multiple times, to a restaurant where, on a good day, the food is mediocre. The experience matters and it’s our job at the library to make yours memorable.

Thank you for choosing to spend your time using your library. Our goal is for your experience to be consistently exceptional, and I hope you find that to be the case. And, if not, I hope to hear from you.

Melanie Huggins, Executive Director

I just finished:  The News From Spain, by Joan Wickersham
I’m just starting: Frog Music, by Emma Donoghue
I can’t stop listening to: Childhood Home, Ben and Ellan Harper
You don’t want to miss: Battle of the Books Tournament.  A book trivia showdown!

Read the full issue of Access.


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