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Libraries Use Mystery Shopping Service

In previous blog entries, we’ve discussed how mystery shopping can help not only businesses, but also the public sector — like law enforcement. Another field that can greatly benefit from mystery shopping data is the library system. I recently read a press release on how the Enfield Library Service used mystery shoppers to more efficiently allocate their budget dollars.

Steacie Science and Engineering Library at Yor...
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Peter Brown, the Information and Digital Citizenship Manager for Enfield Library Service, called for a review of the library’s reference services. So he hired a mystery shopping company that sent individuals posing as library users to ask staff about online resources.

Their findings revealed that only 50% of library employees knew the online resources existed. Enfield also learned that users like to access online information when it’s convenient for them, but they expect a higher quality resource from a library than what they’d find from a standard search engine.

The results from the mystery shopping campaign inspired Enfield to take action. The first step was to retrain the staff on accessing information online so that they can pass this information onto library users. The training has four main pillars: legal and business, online newspapers, study support, and local and community information. Brown said in the release that the specialist training they are able to deliver ”has paid dividends and was the key factor in increasing usage.”

Brown used the data a step further by making the information resources available via any PC, whether it’s in the library or at a patron’s home. This saved the library system a considerable amount of money, because they could reduce the staff from eight to two. Meanwhile, the number of online resource users at the Enfield Library Service has increased from 2,500 a month to 7,500 – 12,000 users a month. Furthermore, the library’s budget can be more efficiently allocated to best serve library users’ needs.

All thanks to some mystery shopping.

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