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

Monica,

The feedback you gave is very helpful but I especially want to address your 
very last point -- Yes! Marketing sees volunteers as very much part of the 
team. Thanks for helping them like this.

Scott Rains
Benetech Fellow, Bookshare Volunteer Department
________________________________________
From: bksvol-discuss-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [bksvol-discuss-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] 
On Behalf Of Monica Willyard [rhyami@xxxxxxxxx]
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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