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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Secret shoppers evaluate UA employees

    Employees of UA restaurants and bookstores beware: Secret shoppers are prowling campus and grading customer service.

    The secret shoppers program began last semester to improve customer interactions through a candid face-to-face technique of viewing and assessing UA customer service, with parking garage attendants, administrators, advisers, bookstore and eatery employees.

    The secret shopper program is a project of the Service First Committee, which works with the UA and supports the UA’s student retention efforts by encouraging positive customer service between employees and students.

    It provides a “”more objective way of viewing service,”” said Ryan Windows, program coordinator for the Dean of Students Office.

    To learn more about the Service First Committee or to contact the program, visit

    The committee started in 2004, when a student satisfaction survey was administered to the UA student body.

    The survey showed that UA students expect more quality from services and employees than similar colleges around the country and that UA students were more dissatisfied with customer service, Windows said.

    Volunteer students engage in interactions with campus employees to judge and report on the quality of customer service. The secret shoppers look for good service aspects such as smiling, eye contact, attention and appropriate speech.

    “”There are currently about a dozen students involved,”” Windows said. “”But the program is growing.””

    James Colvin, a public health senior, signed up to be a secret shopper last semester with hopes of improving the quality of service on campus.

    “”Secret shoppers make people more aware of customer service skills,”” Colvin said. “”Which will improve when more employees know we’re out there.””

    Colvin said during a secret shopping situation, he takes mental notes. After the interaction he fills out a form that grades and critiques the service.

    “”The program is not limited to face-to-face interactions,”” Colvin said.

    Earlier in the semester he reported positively about a general e-mail question regarding the UA.

    “”The person didn’t have an answer for me right away,”” Colvin said. “”But she got a good score by being prompt and polite and by directing me to the right place.””

    The idea of a secret shopper program began with questionnaire boxes, open for student feedback, to evaluate the quality of service on campus.

    The committee found that comments like “”It stunk”” or “”I hated it”” held no accountability or specifics, hence the launch of the secret shopper program to identify UA service at its best, and places where service could be improved.

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