(The Splendid Lantern Shark, Picture above used from: http://grist.org/list/this-shark-can-turn-invisible/#.UOYeqcUcSr8.twitter)
This morning I came across an article about the Splendid Lantern Shark, a marine animal that can not only glow in the dark but turn invisible. The article “This shark can turn invisible” by Sarah Laskow, if you would like to read it, is available at: http://grist.org/list/this-shark-can-turn-invisible/#.UOYeqcUcSr8.twitter. It made my inner five-year-old self excited thinking about the shark’s superpowers, and at the same time, frightened at the prospects of finding this type of shark in the ocean. Superpowers aside, I believe that there are business lessons to be cultivated from the Splendid Lantern Shark’s abilities to better serve our customers. Let me clarify. The shark can glow in the dark (think: illumination and enlightenment to the customer) and become invisible (think: making the process appear seamless).
To help libraries or businesses “glow in the dark,” I’ve come up with a list of ways to bring illumination to the customer:
- Promote and market your business. Tell people that you (1) have a business and (2) have certain things to offer through your business. You might tell people about your business through word-of-mouth, social media, a website, a radio announcement, a television advertisement, or even a plane flying a banner behind it in the sky. Knowledge gives greater potential to action. Therefore, illuminate (glow in the dark, like the Splendid Lantern Shark) for your current and potential customers on what you can offer them.
- Explain the production and distribution process to your customer. When your customer knows what you’re doing to help them and how you’re doing it, chances are they’ll be more lenient if there’s a hangup in the process. For example, if your product has to be shipped from the distributor to your business before getting to the customer’s hands, by explaining the process, problems can be avoided. Illumination and communication on the process can build trust with your customer.
- Describe your product completely and in terms the customer can understand. In the library profession, describing the product falls under cataloging. The transition to using Resource Description and Access (RDA) in cataloging will make the product much easier to understand for the user, since RDA was designed with the user in mind. In terms of general business, customers want to know what they’re getting, and by describing the product, they’ll know they’re getting the best. A smart business always keeps the customer in mind.
If glowing can bring enlightenment to the customer, invisibility can help a business create a seamless, streamlined process of service. Look at ideas for creating an “invisible” service:
- Provide services where the customer is, and if there is not a way to be at the customer’s location physically, strive to at least be there virtually. When Amazon created the Kindle, the company wanted to make the process of downloading an eBook feel magical. The Kindle owner could be nearly anywhere (dependent on WiFi service availability) and could buy the newest James Patterson or Nora Roberts book without having to go to the store, connect to a computer, or move from their position on the couch. The service provided was invisible to the user but presented a positive experience. The transition to eBooks in the library has caught on, and now the smaller libraries are gaining access to eBooks through services such as OverDrive, Inc. But are eBooks the only way the library can provide invisible services? No, there are many ways a library can connect with its users including Homework Help online via a website chat device. By connecting with patrons where they’re at, the library and other businesses can create an invisible, seamless service that leaves the customer with a positive experience.
- Be present, but not in the customer’s face the whole time. In a business, it should be your mission as a helper to acknowledge the customer and let them know you’re there for them. However, in certain stores, this mode of action has been overdone. For example, for the third time, a sales representative runs the “if you have any questions, let me know” routine; I’ve even heard of stories where the sales person followed the customer around the store for the entire duration of the shopping experience. Presence is good, but pestering the customer will only make them run for the door!
Whether or not you want superpowers like the Splendid Lantern Shark, you as a business professional can learn how to splendidly serve their customers through illumination and invisibility.
Laskow, Sarah. “This shark can turn invisible.” Grist Magazine, Inc.. 17 2012: n. page. Web. 6 Jan. 2013. <http://grist.org/list/this-shark-can-turn-invisible/