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WCCC to offer customer service program

| Thursday, March 29, 2012

Westmoreland County Community College trustees approved a new certificate program in customer service at their monthly board meeting Wednesday.

The 18-credit Customer Service in Office Technology certificate program is expected to start this fall and will include a newly created three-credit course in customer service. The program's curriculum is designed to prepare students to communicate professionally with a diverse range of customers and to respond to a variety of customer service requests and complaints. Students will also be proficient in Microsoft Office software, according to the program proposal.

The new course in customer service will "examine attitudes, knowledge and skills that are needed to work effectively in any job that has contact with clients/customers/patients." It will aim to show how customer service impacts businesses in an increasingly competitive global economy and how customer dissatisfaction can cause a loss of market share, according to the course description.

The certificate program is part of an initiative by all 14 community colleges in Pennsylvania to respond to a strong demand statewide for an educational program that emphasizes customer service skills.

The colleges collectively received a $20 million federal grant under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program, part of the 2009 federal stimulus bill.

Work groups with representatives from each college met to look at a variety of areas where they could better support job creation with their educational programs, said Anna Marie Palatella, a spokeswoman for WCCC. Details on Luzerne County Community College's existing customer service certificate were distributed to the other 13 schools, but Palatella said she was unsure how closely WCCC's course will follow that model.

On the local level, members of WCCC's advisory committees have indicated there is a need for soft skills, particularly in customer service, she said.

And the Westmoreland-Fayette Workforce Investment Area projects an annual job growth rate in the field of about 14 percent and salaries averaging about $30,930. The state Department of Labor & Industry anticipates 134 job openings per year in customer service in the region.

Students in the certificate program will take six courses: mathematics of business, introduction to business, microcomputer concepts, document processing I, customer service and interpersonal communication.

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