A course entitled "Communication Skills for Customer Service" will be offered to members of the community on April 28 from 9am-4pm at the Professional Learning Center in Rm W89-305. This course was originally created by the Department of Facilities for all its employees and it has now been adapted for the larger MIT community.
The concept of "customers" is still relatively new at MIT, but it's been gaining ground in service areas of the Institute. The course is designed to help participants identify their internal and external customers, determine what those customers consider to be great service and then explore methods for how to deliver it. When it was offered to the community for the first time in October, the course drew attendees from departments as varied as the Libraries, the Cashier's Office and the Industrial Liaison Program.
Participants will learn communications skills such as assessing customer expectations and responding to someone who is upset, as well as standard practices, such as creating an atmosphere that helps the customer feel "in the loop" and handling phone inquiries effectively. There is no fee to take the course, but registration is required by completing a form on the web.
The original course in Facilities was called "Communication Solves Problems," and it supported specific departmental objectives such as standard response times to customer inquiries and guidelines for providing telephone assistance and involving other staff to help solve problems.
The Facilities version of the course was developed and taught by employees of the department, and every employee from the director on down was required to take it. Trainers from Facilities included Dolores Anoli, Jennifer Combs, Joe Gifun, Michael Smith, Michael St. Croix, Ellen Stordy, Michael Taub and Jim Wallace. This group was guided by Jim Dezieck and Ken Hewitt III from the Performance Consulting and Training team. To accommodate the various work shifts of the more than 400 Facilities employees who took the course, it was given at 5am, noon and midnight.
Performance Consulting and Training can customize the course for other areas as well. For example, staff in the Office of the Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education will be taking a customized version, and the Cambridge Public School system has asked MIT to present the course to its service staff this spring.
For more information about bringing a program like this to your department, contact Mr. Dezieck at x8-9660.
A version of this article appeared in the March 17, 1999 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 43, Number 23).