MCSD spends $7,500 on customer service workshops for Customer Su - Alabamas13.com WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

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MCSD responds to spending $7,500 on customer service workshops for Customer Support Center

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COLUMBUS, Ga. -

On Wednesday, a Muscogee County School District official firmly stood by the decision to spend $7,500 for three customer service workshops for the district's Customer Support Services Department. The classes were available to fewer than 20 employees and 15 attended the training sessions.

News 3 first reported on this story Tuesday. Each four-hour workshop cost a flat rate of $2,500. The classes were held in Muscogee County Feb. 13-14 and 21.

"I'm by no means ashamed of offering the training; very proud that we did and proud of the customer support center," said Director of Customer Support Services Karen Higgins. She said the workshops were a way of helping employees continually improve on their existing skills.

Seven people work in the call center and handle all technology problems in the district. They diagnose everything from computer issues to cell phones and equipment problems. They work with 6,000 employees, 18,000 computers and 2,000 interactive whiteboards. Higgins said in last year they closed just under 19,000 work orders.

Higgins said, "We were after the customer to feel free to approach us for help to minimize the downtime that people have when using technology." She also said the department was looking to raise the percentage of work orders that get resolved.

The interactive workshops focused on how to effectively talk with people who need help, like how to use key phrases that build trust, using the right tone of voice and how to provide customer service to people within the organization.

Richard Evans, managing director of the Evans Consulting Group said usually businesses will focus on teaching employees rules and procedures, but won't put enough emphasis on soft skills. But he believes they are vital too. "There's a fact-finding to figure out what the problem is and in the process of doing that sometimes you can create an impression that you're not really caring about the person's well-being," said Evans.

Higgins said many issues come to the district through the telephone. She believes when there is no eye contact or visual cues the way questions are phrased is essential to identifying the core problem. "It's not common sense necessarily in our educational systems to provide that kind of etiquette training."

Even though many school districts are trying to whittle down their budgets in these tight times, Higgins believes they must continue to invest in staff to be successful educating children.  She said there may have been a cheaper, more-local company to provide the training, but said she doesn't know of any in Columbus that fit their needs.

 Evans Consulting Group has worked with about four other school districts in Georgia, including DeKalb County and Fulton County public schools and each district's needs vary.

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Sydney Cameron

Sydney joined the WRBL news team in December 2011 after working as a freelance reporter in Washington, D.C. More>>

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