The best customer products and services are rarely created in isolation and, more often than not, are developed with the benefit of some essential customer input. That philosophy of actively engaging customers is something Barnes & Noble College has developed throughout not just their bookstore operations, but also in the way customers use and interact with the company’s products and services. That kind of thinking has resulted in stronger customer input and the type of intelligence that can help create new and enhanced products. And there are probably fewer better examples than FacultyEnlight.
When developing a new, online textbook adoption platform system from the ground up, Barnes & Noble College appreciated that customer involvement would be invaluable in the design. Through a national survey of over 1,100 faculty members and students, along with one-on-one interviews, the company garnered important information on existing products and what customers would want to see in an enhanced system. That feedback was invaluable, as Nicole Guerrieri, Director Digital Education for Barnes & Noble College explains. “This really is a product designed with input from faculty across the country,” she says, “and it really helped inform the design of the system and the kinds of features we wanted to include.”
In particular, the surveys revealed concerns about pricing and available formats while making textbook adoptions. “The affordability for students is a key factor for faculty,” Guerrieri points out, “but there were also concerns about selecting products in the format that best suits their students learning needs,” she adds. As a consequence, FacultyEnlight has built into its design the opportunity to see price and available formats while searching, and giving users the opportunity to check suitability before researching more in-depth information about a textbook.
The surveys also revealed more sociable needs. “Our respondents wanted to hear not only what other faculty were using, but also what they thought of the materials they were using,” Guerrieri explains. Those needs have also been addressed in the design of FacultyEnlight, with users being able to rate and review course materials. Another key advantage of FacultyEnlight is its ease of use. “We’ve made is easy to adopt and search in one place, and although customers can still send emails or faxes ─ or submit in any way they like ─ we think FacultyEnlight is so easy to use, we hope they’ll transition to this tool.”
Piloted last October, FacultyEnlight has now launched across all Barnes & Noble College campuses nationwide, and the reception has been quite positive. Already, there has been a 50 percent increase in the number of online adoptions submitted through FacultyEnlight over the same time period last year. “Faculty really want the best possible learning outcomes for their students and with over 11,000 faculty registered on the site so far, responses from our customers describe an adoption process that has gone from frustration to quick-and-easy submissions using a really intuitive tool,” Guerrieri says. Registered users can also access additional benefits such as their adoption history, adoption deadlines and local bookstore news and events.
Barnes & Noble College is already developing new enhancements to FacultyEnlight based on the best ideals of customer evaluation and communication. “In the longer term, we’re hoping that this becomes not only a highly useful and functional tool, but an online community for faculty,” explains Guerrieri. “We want it to develop into a network of peers, where users can come together, and collaborate with each other.”