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Spotlight: Trends in College Store Customer Service

Posted by T.A. Nathan on 3/3/20 5:00 AM
Topics: college store management, campus store customer service, college retail customer experience

Customer service is a pillar of retail. With growing competition from online distributors, it’s important that campus bookstores go above and beyond when it comes to serving customers. We recently interviewed Field Marketing Territory Manager Beth Gallagher about how bookstores elevate customer service. 

Spotlight: Trends in College Store Customer Service

What are some examples of great customer service that you’ve seen?

UC Davis is a great example of strong customer service in a college store. They’ve organized a weekend program that targets first-year students and prepares them for everyday life at the school. Part of this program called Smart Start, that includes taking new students through the bookstore to show them where they can find everything they’ll need for the upcoming year. Their employees who are trained to assist students during orientation wear color-coded t-shirts. 

Good customer service comes in all shapes and sizes, but I’ve noticed that having student employees is becoming increasingly popular. Having peer-to-peer interactions not only builds a good relationship between students and their campus store, it also creates an opportunity for students to work on campus.


In what ways do employees go above and beyond with customer service?

Nowadays, there is so much to cover when bringing in new students. Between school programs and new technological educational resources, students need to be taught how to access their course materials. Employees who take the time to share their industry knowledge with students go above and beyond when assisting these customers. 


Does having a plan for how customer service is conducted help?

I can’t speak for every store. Each has its own method to help students. American River College has impressed me with an excellent plan for assisting customers that I wanted to share. They created a clicker system in their store to notify employees when and where customers need help. When a customer needs assistance they use the nearest clicker and it makes a polite sounding noise that employees can hear across the store.


What recommendations do you have for stores?

The most important thing to remember is that management should teach the customer service staff to listen well. Not every customer is the most articulate about their needs. Sometimes you have to discern what the customer truly wants despite the information that they give you. 

Beth has been a part of MBS’ Wholesale field force since 2004, she worked for a college bookstore, which gives her insight into the real world needs of her customers. She is excited to host an upcoming podcast. To learn more about customer service, check out Customer Service Drives Results.


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