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City Partners with Richland College to Improve Customer Service through Training

To better serve Garland residents, the City has developed a partnership with Richland College to provide training to City employees that will help increase efficiencies, enhance work skills, and improve customer service.
One example of the partnership’s success comes from the City’s Customer Service Department, which worked with Human Resources and Richland College last year to develop a customized training class for its front-line employees.

The department, which has approximately 500,000 customer contacts annually, participated in an in-depth training program from October 2013 through early 2014. All supervisors and team leads received one-on-one coaching, and all frontline personnel underwent extensive training in the area of customer service.

“It was evident early on that this was not just another generic, cookie-cutter customer service training class,” said Diane Thomas, Call Center supervisor. “Although many City departments have frontline personnel who work with the public, their customer service needs are different.”

As a result of the training program, many improvements have been made to the department’s behind-the-scenes processes, as well as how employees communicate with customers.

“Breaking down the learning styles and rethinking how we welcome customers really helped staff learn ways to communicate more efficiently, which in turn, has allowed us to assist customers and resolve any concerns they might have faster,” said Maria Diaz, Customer Service supervisor.

Department leads are discussing the possible development of an ongoing refresher course for those who have already been through the program, as well as a way to get new hires up-to-speed on department best practices. In the meantime, one year later, Customer Service continues to thrive on the skills and knowledge employees gained from the training.
“Ultimately—that’s our goal—to fulfill the need to best serve our customers,” said Customer Service Managing Director Kevin Slay. “To help us do that, we needed an intensive training course that was tailored to us, and we were able to achieve that by working with Richland College.”

Once the training for Customer Service was completed, the program was condensed to an eight-hour class that is now a requirement for all front-line City personnel. The class is tailored to address specific department needs. Recently, City employees from the Garland Senior Center attended the class, and, as a result, modified some of their paperwork to better serve senior citizens by making it easier to understand.

The City also partners with Richland College to offer courses including Ethics for Municipal Government, Business Writing, Command Spanish, Computer Skills, and Managing to Lead. The partnership with Richland is cost effective, and with the campus based in Garland, has a local tie to the community.

“It is a one-stop-shop with knowledgeable instructors who are able to train on a variety of topics and provide leadership development opportunities to City employees,” said Susan Fair, the City’s Workforce Engagement & Development administrator.

Richland Garland College Campus is an award-winning community campus focused on workforce training and development. It is located at 675 W. Walnut St. For more information, visit RichlandCollege.edu/garlandcampus.