Shop Your Way to Service Excellence: Secret Shopping for Academic Libraries

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
A. Kathy Bradshaw, Former Human Resources Librarian (Creator)
Kathryn Crowe, Associate Dean for Public Services (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:

Abstract: Secret or mystery shopping is a standard method of evaluating customer service in the retail and hospitality world. While many public libraries have implemented mystery shopping practices few academic institutions have done so. The University Libraries at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro conducted two mystery shopper exercises in 2010 and 2012. Students were recruited from a Hospitality Management class to serve as the secret shoppers. They attended a 90 minute training session and received scripted questions to use. “Shoppers” completed a rating sheet for each encounter that was based on customer service values established by the Libraries. Averages of the overall results of the first exercise in 2010 were shared with the entire library and more specific departmental information shared with the appropriate supervisor. Findings were generally quite positive but indicated that we could improve “going the extra mile” and “confirming satisfaction.” As a result, we developed training sessions for public services staff which were delivered during summer 2011. A LibGuide that included training videos was created for students and all public services students were required to view the videos and provide comments. In addition, we developed more specific public service standards for procedures such as answering the telephone, confirming satisfaction and referring patrons to other offices. The Secret Shopper assessment was administered again in spring 2012 to see if scores improved. In the interim the Special Collections unit added a service point so it was added to the study. The results in the second study indicated improvement.

Additional Information

Proceedings of the 2012 Library Assessment Conference
Language: English
Date: 2012
Academic Libraries, Reference, Customer Service, Mystery Shopper, Secret Shopper

Email this document to