A little lesson from Pandora

A Pandora fan I have been for nearly two years now. So when I recently got an iTouch, I knew I’d be downloading and playing with their iPhone app. This morning I finally got around to installing it and as I had anticipated I luv this mobile app. In fact, I think I like Pandora’s iPhone app even more then their web presence. The interface is simple, direct and easy to navigate.

Anyway, I didn’t mean for the this post to start off as a luvfest for the P, but what triggered to post was the immediate email follow-up I received from Pandora founder Tim Westergren. I know, I know … Tim really didn’t send it. It was generated by a script. But that’s really what’s not important to me. What is … is that the senders email address wasn't masked by prescribed anonymity like “welcome@”, "news@" or worse yet “no_reply@” The email came from a name … an actual person … Tim.Westergren! Who just also happened to also be Pandora’s founder.

Tim’s email got me thinking about how many emails libraries send out each day to customers in the format of email newsletters, welcome messages, even reserves and overdues notices. And how many of these are sent from an impersonal sender id? And as a result how many opportunities do we miss to make a customer connection and create even more passionate fans for our services?

The truth is when I saw Pandora’s email in my box two thoughts ran immediately through my head … 1) “Wow, I got an email my an actual member of their web team” Imagine my surprise to see it was the founder and after reading the context of the brief welcome message 2) “How smart of to engage your customer in way that acknowledges their contributions to your services”

Indeed, I think libraries can learn a lot from Pandora and this new breed of web applications. But in my mind what’s important to pay attention to isn’t so much embedded in the social networking or open api architecture. It’s in how these new models are humanizing the online experience, especially in small ways.

1 comment:

jomfritz said...

Excellent point - I suspect one of the reasons the Web is littered with the remains of failed attempts by libraries to set up Myspace or Facebook pages or blogs etc. is that libraries forget that social networking is SOCIAL. Libraries tend to make their social networking sites look like completely impersonal web pages. Who really wants to be "friends" with an institution?