The Article Blog

The Document Delivery Town Hall Experiment

Posted by Ian Palmer on Mon, Mar 10, 2014 @ 11:01 AM

townhallIf you read our most recent blog post 'Two million document delivery orders...and counting' or spent any time speaking with me or my colleagues here at Reprints Desk, you've probably figured out that adoption of our Article Galaxy platform for document delivery has grown dramatically since our inception just seven years ago.

Our growth has been largely attributable to direct customer references as well industry reports such as the 2008 and 2012 Document Delivery Vendor Scorecard Reports from analyst and advisory firm Outsell, Inc.

Historically, our own primary research showed that references were driven by customer satisfaction, which were in turn driven by strong performance in document delivey fundamentals and quality customer support since docdel is such a "high touch" business. Our recent research indicates that our technology capabilities (for example, see our article-level Open Access Filter) and customer communications focus are now equally strong drivers of loyalty for us. 

So late last year, we asked ourselves "What else can we do to improve how we communicate with our growing customer base and keep them informed about all of the existing capabilities and also looming ones such as article rentals and instant PDF display?"  

We've always met regularly with customers to initiate account tune ups and also produced news releases to share our latest developments. We supplemented these tactics by providing administrators with a snapshot of active/inactive account features within the admin user interface, enabling acccess to customer support tickets with a client administrator's account, and by publishing Article Galaxy release notes.

However, we knew we could do more.

So on October 9 last year, we at Reprints Desk decided to experiment with another method for effectively communicating with our customers: we launched our first ever town halls for our corporate and academic customers.  And we followed this up with another day full of town halls just last week.

According to Wikipedia, "A town hall meeting is an American term given to an informal public meeting, function, or event derived from the traditional town meetings of New England. Typically open to everybody in a town community and held at the local municipal building, attendees generally may voice their opinions and ask questions of the public figures, elected officials, or political candidates at the town hall."  

The document delivery town hall idea came to us after reading a marketing case study about how the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) used a town hall-like format to connect their staff and talent with fans in an open Q&A session.  

Why not for Article Galaxy and document delivery, we wondered.  

After holding two days of document delivery town halls in 6 months, the reasons WHY to do document delivery town halls are crystal clear. Here's what our customers shared with us via a survey following our March 5 town halls:

document delivery event

And here's what customers share about the frequency that they prefer from the two town hall series in October and March:

document delivery town hall

Based on this feedback, we definitely feel that our document delivery town hall concept has been a mini-success and is a model for other information industry vendors.  So we'll continue to take our cues from customers like you and to work towards perfecting the timing, format and content. As always, we thank you for your collaboration and also encourage you to continue sharing ideas about how we can improve our new town halls or communication in general.

We thought we'd conclude this post within The Article Blog with a few of the (unedited) excerpts from the most recent town hall survey comments.

(Note: for customers that missed the event contact community[at] for a transcript of the Q&A and video recording)


  • Only some of the upcoming features are applicable to us, but I appreciated hearing about all of them, because they are evidence of RD's creativity and dedication.
  • It's nice to hear about the new enhancements coming.
  • Good to hear about changes and future changes.
  • I wasn't aware of some of the current features / options in Article Galaxy and am happy to learn about the forthcoming enhancements.
  • Update on new and upcoming features (may prevent me from having to questions) - news on workflows - some info of what over customers need, good for my own thinking - interactive questions with answers
  • I haven't used the administrator site to it's full yet, just for running reports and checking on orders etc. It was useful to understand the range of functions available, and what you can do to help.
  • Our library has not used reprints desk yet. we are still evaluating our workflows and policies to figure out the best way to incorporate a document delivery service.
  • I appreciated an opportunity to see the workflows as you see and provide feedback on how that workflow could be improved for those of us in resource sharing. I also liked getting the update to newly released features like the addon, and what will be looked at for future enhancements.
  • I am a new customer and will be transferring more of my business to Reprints Desk. Learning about the UI upgrades and expanded features helps me build better connections to my workflows as I go forward with the transition.
  • You answered a lot of the questions that we don't have the time to go out and research ourselves due to having so much work going on.
  • If I understand it correctly, there is an add-on that we can use to order directly from you when we need to go to a doc-supplier? Please let me if I am correct and if so how/where I can obtain add-on.
  • We aren't using all of the extended services yet so much of the content didn't apply to us but was interesting.
  • A lot of information shared, opportunity to ask questions
  • It is good to get an overview of what is new/planned.
  • I think these are great! It's also very refreshing to actually hear about the improvements in the works and then to see them come to fruition. Thanks!
  • Nice to hear about new products and features and also to hear different questions on what other customers might have
  • It is very good, I profit from everybodies questions. I like it to receive information at the same time like everybody else and to have a chance to place questions immediately and get answers. At the moment you implement great changes, quarterly is perfect. Maybe consider in 2015 move to bi-Annually?
  • Sorry that I had to exit early for another meeting. But from what I have seen, I think the town hall is a great idea.
  • You answered specific questions, were honest and willing to work through issues. Offered to follow up.
  • I thought having various functional representatives on the call was a great approach.

Topics: document delivery, reprints desk, article galaxy, scholarly papers, open access, article rentals