[bksvol-discuss] Re: Volunteers as Recruiters for New Bookshare Members?

Hi, Monica, when I first became a member I'd never downloaded anything
before. I got help from Rob Turner from the technical support staff at
Bookshare. I think your idea for being an old hand or friend for the
green Bookshare member is a great idea. I would have liked that. I'm
willing to pass on what I know insofar as I'm able. Regards, Kim
Friedman.

-----Original Message-----
From: bksvol-discuss-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:bksvol-discuss-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Monica
Willyard
Sent: Wednesday, October 27, 2010 2:26 PM
To: bksvol-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [bksvol-discuss] Re: Volunteers as Recruiters for New Bookshare
Members?


Hi Scott. Yes, a million times over, it would help to be able to offer
someone a free month of Bookshare access. When I talk to people about
membership, two stumbling blocks get in our way. I'll explain.

First, they get really excited and sign up. However, while they wait for
their proof of disability to process, they start worrying about whether
they'll be able to learn to use the system, and circumstances crop up
that keep them from actually following through and paying for their
membership. The waiting period gives them time to talk themselves out of
investing in a Bookshare membership. A free month would let them get a
taste of reading with Bookshare so that when it's time to pay for
membership, they know the value and quality of what they're paying for.
They'd still have to wait for proof of disability, but then they'd have
a free month to explore, and renewing or buying a membership would seem
like a natural progression.

The other stumbling block is more subtle, and it has two parts.
Bookshare doesn't have a smooth introduction process for new members.
Learning how to download, unzip, and read a daisy or Braille book using
your own equipment can feel a little daunting at first. Yet new members
don't know that there is a thriving community of people who are willing
to help them learn to do these things one on one with their specific
needs as a guide. I would love to see a checkbox or question on the
membership sign-up form asking if they'd like to work with a volunteer
mentor during the first couple of weeks of their membership. It could be
done over email, Skype, or by phone if both people agree.

This could take some pressure off Bookshare support staff, and it would
help marketing too. Why? No one is more talkative and eager to spread
the word about Bookshare as a new member who has just learned to read
his/her first book. If it's easy for them, they'll tell others. They
almost can't stop themselves because they're more independent. On the
downside, if they had to struggle for hours with no help, they'll talk
about that too. I've seen both things happen on mailing lists and
Twitter. So if a new member gets timely help and is happy, Bookshare
will gain from that exponentially.

For now, I do all I can to get around both stumbling blocks  by saying
things like, "I'll help you learn to use the site." Or "You said you
like this author. I just found 10 of her books in the collection. Check
out this link." I email my friend every 3 or 4 days during the wait for
disability verification with little things I find that I know they'll
like. I don't push though. I keep it low key and pay close attention to
what kind of help they might need. I'll contact an older woman who is
newly blind more often than a teenaged guy who grew up using computers.

Ok, I know I've said a lot. I'm just really excited that marketing sees
us as part of the team and that we're able to help with helping find new
members. (smile) This is a part of volunteering I get jazzed about.

-- 
Monica Willyard
Visit my GoodReads book shelf at http://www.goodreads.com/plumlipstick
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