Academic Solutions · Article

5 Ways BNC Campus Store Teams Deliver Better Service and Outcomes for Our School Partners

April 2, 2024

At Barnes & Noble College, exceptional customer service is the expectation – not the exception. Our entire operating model is built around providing the highest standard of service, not just to the students seeking course materials that support their academic success or retail customers shopping for spirit gear, but to the institution administrators, faculty and staff we partner with every day.

Through strong, long-lasting relationships and innovative and world-class academic and retail solutions, we support our partner institutions in achieving their highest-priority goals. At the local level, we build a deep understanding of each school we serve, which allows us to customize a strategy for each campus store to meet the unique needs of the school and honor their history, mission and values.

We’re proud that our commitment to service stands out. In an independent survey* of administrators at 334 colleges and universities across the country, Barnes & Noble College was voted highest in satisfaction among national bookstore providers across several categories of customer service and support.

  • Overall satisfaction for campus store services (+7 pts)
  • Overall course material program/support (+12 pts)
  • Inclusive and equitable access programs (+6 pts)
  • Emblematic and general merchandise assortment (+11 pts)
  • Retail innovation (+11 pts)
  • Ecommerce and mobile experience (+9 pts)
  • Marketing programs and in-store events (+11 pts)

The following are five ways we equip our store managers and teams to be effective partners to our clients – and provide the services and experiences that deliver better outcomes for students, faculty, and the entire campus community.

1. ENSURE A DEDICATED STORE MANAGEMENT TEAM FOR EACH STORE

BNC believes in having a dedicated campus store team focused on the unique needs of each campus community. We ensure every BNC campus store is efficiently staffed with an experienced management and support team who are hands-on and work collaboratively with the institution to deliver exceptional customer service to all customers at all times. At each campus store, the store management and trained store team members are responsible for that store and that store alone.

Each store is also supported by an experienced regional management team, which includes a Regional Manager, Director of Stores and Territory Vice President. This layer of regional support ensures our partner institutions experience all the advantages of a locally operated campus store, while benefiting from BNC’s resources and decades of academic retail and digital expertise.

2. GIVE STORE LEADERS A ROADMAP TO SUCCESS ON DAY 1

At BNC, all campus store managers, along with general and assistant managers, participate in an Operational Manager Training Program. This includes being paired with a mentor and having access to a certified trainer and other valuable onboarding guides and resources. They receive specific training in all areas of our business, including manager fundamentals, course materials, trade books, general merchandise, café operations, human resources, inventory management, finance, marketing and campus outreach.

3. BUILD A TEAM WITH STAYING POWER FOR EACH CAMPUS STORE

The average tenure of our campus store managers at BNC is greater than the industry average. We credit the talented individuals serving in those roles – and the team we build at each store. Creating store teams with staying power requires so much more than ensuring all the shifts are filled. From student employees to store and regional managers, we cultivate an environment of continuous learning and development to keep all staff engaged and invested.

The result is a team of education innovators and retail experts, campus advocates and trusted resources for each campus community. With such a deep bench, we’re able to promote 60% of our store managers from within the company.

4. SERVE AS AN ACTIVE MEMBER OF THE CAMPUS COMMUNITY

BNC campus store managers and staff become a true part of the campuses we serve. They take the time to understand the students, faculty and staff at each school, building deep relationships that address ongoing needs. Our store teams also are active, valued members of the campus community, getting involved in a variety of ways from serving on committees and boards to hosting events and advocating for affordability and other institution priorities. Each store team is well positioned to align the campus store’s merchandise, products and services to the school’s unique needs.

5. CONTINUE EMPOWERING STORE TEAMS TO DELIVER A CUSTOMIZED EXPERIENCE

Empowerment is a highly valued aspect of BNC’s culture, and it’s the cornerstone of our training and development programs. All store employees are equipped—throughout their careers at BNC–with the tools and support to advance their own development into next-generation leaders as well as to enhance the campus store experience. They are empowered at the local level to deliver a customized experience rather than a standard transaction.

BNC also regularly reassesses our training programs to better understand each campus store’s staff, so we can customize our training curriculum to meet their specific needs and learning styles. This personalized approach helps each member of the team understand the direct impact they have on the client partners they work with and the entire campus community. We also gather their feedback to ensure our programs stay current. This allows store managers to focus on driving the customer experience – and sales – at their stores.

BNC’s approach to customer service ensures that the campus store is a destination and a resource for the entire community. Our experienced, dedicated store teams build strong relationships on campus and a deep understanding of their school, allowing them to stay on top of its unique needs. Then, using their localized knowledge as well as BNC’s extensive national resources and expertise, store teams create a customized store experience that supports student outcomes on their academic journey, engages retail customers, drives store traffic and revenue, and enhances the school brand.

This is just a snapshot of how we honor our commitment to serving our campus communities with the best campus store services in the industry. To learn more about how BNC can transform your campus store experience and build a strong bench to provide exceptional service to your institution, contact us.

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