“Having an ongoing and open dialogue with our community members is critical. They trust us and we trust them. The insight we gather is much more powerful than we’d get from ad-hoc surveys because of this ongoing relationship.”

—Marie Policastro
Director of Brand Partnerships and Market Research, Barnes & Noble College

Rethinking customer experience for a challenging demographic

Barnes & Noble College booksellers serves over 6.5 million students and faculty members in 770 post-secondary schools across the U.S. The company wanted to involve students in the evolution of the company and improve the customer experience to suit digital natives. The solution: College Student POV, an insight community of 10,000 students who provide ongoing feedback that impacts business objectives and new initiatives. The success of the community inspired the launch of Parent POV, an insight community of 5,000 parents.

Enhancing the customer experience for new buyers

Barnes & Noble College wanted to make a great first impression on freshmen students. Turning to College Student POV, the company asked them what could be improved. Feedback uncovered that students were often confused during the textbook buying period. As a solution, the company launched VIP Shopping Nights, which are fun, exclusive events where first-year students can work directly with staff to buy their textbooks. Students who attended were twice as likely to return to the bookstore and 69 percent said the events made their transition to college easier. VIP Shopping Nights boosted customer satisfaction by 7.5 percent.

How Barnes & Noble College benefits from our software

Involves customers in the development of new services

Improves customer experience with timely student feedback

Adapts to customers’ changing buying habits

Makes rapid decisions with confidence

Evolves the business with customer intelligence

Engages with target audiences

Monetizing insight community feedback

The company’s in-house agency, Barnes & Noble College Marketing, monetizes community feedback by providing other brands with insight into what students want. For those brands, BNCM combines dynamic, experiential marketing and research for pre-campaign strategy or post-campaign analyses. The insight community allows a brand to target consumer groups with precision. Brand partners can be confident in the quality of Barnes & Noble College’s data. “Unlike some other players in the space, we know who these students are before we even begin recruiting,” says Policastro. “We comfortably rest the future of our company’s research initiatives on this fact.”

Engaging and understanding target audiences

“Research fuels Barnes & Noble College,” says Steve McSpiritt, the market research specialist at the company. “It gives us and our partners a strategic advantage in understanding the most important audience to us: college students.” Today, every product, message and business decision across the company is vetted in some way by community members. For example, insight helps campus partners such as colleges and universities to improve student recruitment and retention, and guides publishing partners during course material development.

Learn how you can tailor the customer experience for young buyers just like Barnes & Noble College