Customer Service Skills Training: Certification for Higher Education Professionals

Customer Service Skills Training: Certification for Higher Education Professionals


Check Back Soon For Conference Dates


Keep in touch by joining our mailing list.


Get certified in service excellence to boost student satisfaction on your campus.

As competition in higher education intensifies, so do prospective students’ appetites to shop for institutions that provide the best education, experience, and amenities for their tuition dollars. Embedding a culture of service excellence at all levels of an institution can directly enhance enrollment and improve student retention. More and more institutions are responding to the implicit connection between the quality of customer service and the success of the larger institutional mission.

Join us for this one-of-a-kind learning experience, unique to the higher education training space, specifically developed for both frontline customer service professionals and those who supervise them. Through a number of interactive, hands-on sessions and small-group activities, you will dive deep into:

  • Critical competencies of good customer service in higher education
  • Maintaining consistency across service channels
  • The conversation cycle and scripting
  • Assisting difficult customers
  • Understanding the full spectrum of customer relationships - from students and their parents to internal stakeholders
  • Measuring and assessing your customer service culture

You will leave this training with increased confidence in your customer service skills and a heightened ability to handle a wide variety of service scenarios.


Get Your Team Certified

This event culminates in a final, written exam. Upon demonstrating your mastery of the subject matter discussed throughout the conference, you will receive a certificate of completion for your time spent and knowledge gained at this event. Show that your campus is a leader in customer service by getting your entire frontline staff certified!


Unlock savings by bringing your team!

Register two colleagues from your institution and a third can attend for 50% off!

Post-Conference Workshop: Leading Culture Change to Enhance Service Excellence

This optional post-conference workshop will focus on how to lead a culture shift towards service excellence at your institution. Our expert facilitator will help those interested in starting a Service Excellence Initiative at their institution identify where to start, how to sustainably roll it out, and how to get buy-in to truly change the culture. You will also discuss how to leverage data to implement and lead new service excellence initiatives and on your campus.

Who Should Attend

This conference has been specifically designed for both managers and frontline staff across enrollment and student services in higher education. The program will especially benefit you if:

  1. You are a frontline service provider looking to enhance your customer service skills.
  2. You are a manager or director supervising frontline service providers and looking to bring training ideas back to your institution.
  3. You are a campus leader looking to lead culture change and implement a service excellence program on your campus.

of attendees satisfied with the program


of attendees reported improved customer service skills


of attendees would likely return to another Academic Impressions program

"As a customer service leader, this conference was excellent in providing new perspectives and tools to revitalize and improve our customer service model.”

- Erika Strathearn, Assistant Registrar, Carleton University

“Incredibly user friendly, simple tools to enhance customer service experience at our institution.”

- Brooke Lynch, Student Recruitment Officer, Fleming College



Your registration for the event includes full access to all conference sessions and materials, the networking reception on Monday, breakfast and lunch on Tuesday, breakfast on Wednesday, as well as refreshments and snacks throughout the conference.

Post-conference attendees will also be provided lunch on Wednesday.

Day 1: The Service Paradigm
March 18, 2019

12:30 to 6:00 p.m.


Welcome and Introductions



Defining Service: How Does Customer Service Impact Higher Education?

What defines good vs. bad customer service? We’ll dive into customer service models and research that will enhance your understanding of the role customer service plays within higher education. This interactive session will set the stage for the rest of this event and provide strategies to educate, lead, and empower others shift towards a culture of service excellence at your institution.



Visioning Exercise: Moving the Needle at Your Institution

This exercise will help you connect the conversation about what makes good customer service and root it firmly within your specific higher education service environment. You will be guided through an activity that will prompt you to think about what service currently looks like at your institution, what you would like it to look like, and what is most important to those to whom you currently serve. You will be asked to share your results with your tables and with the larger group.



Competencies for Service Excellence

This session will provide an in-depth, example-based overview of the various kinds of competencies that are needed to provide high-quality customer service to students in today’s higher education environment. Types of competencies to be discussed are physical, emotional, knowledge-based, environmental, and cross-cultural.



Self-Assessment Activity

You will have the opportunity to conduct a self-assessment of your own customer service skills based on the service competencies presented. You will be able to be more effective in your role through understanding your own areas of strengths and opportunities for growth.



Networking Reception


Day Two: Foundational Skills for High-Quality Service
March 19, 2019

8:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.


Enhancing Communications through Scripting

Our second day will open with a session focused on the art of scripting as a means of ensuring consistency across service channels. You will be given time at the end of the session to write your own scripts for phone conversations including greetings, closings, and apologies.



The Conversation Cycle

In this session, you will build upon your knowledge of scripting to look more holistically at the four key phases of the conversation cycle. You will learn how to help navigate through unclear student requests and questions, and how to avoid using jargon in your interactions with students.



Practice: Role Playing

During this role-playing activity, you will break into groups based upon your role as a manager or frontline employee at your institution. You will then work with a partner to practice and apply the scripting and conversation cycle techniques you learned in the previous session.



Policies and Practices that Impact Service

Higher education is a place where policies (both formal and informal) proliferate. This presentation will provide examples of formal policies you need to be aware of that have implications for the way you provide service. It will also challenge you to think about informal policies or practices that may be creating service barriers.



Accounting for Diversity in Higher Ed Customer Service

Diversity must be taken into account in the service you provide. You will learn how to adjust your service practices and style based on the specific characteristics of the students you encounter. The importance of cultural sensitivity, awareness, empathy, and listening will be emphasized.



Measuring and Assessing Your Customer Service Culture

During this session, we will explore a variety of measurement and assessment tools and techniques that can be used to gauge the quality of customer service your department, unit, or campus currently provides. You will be given time during the workshop to begin to formulate and adapt some of these tools to your own context.



Your Service Excellence Action Plan (Working Session)

Whether you are a frontline professional or a campus leader, it is critical to build out an action plan to maintain momentum when you return to your institution. This interactive working session will provide space for you to identify barriers you will likely encounter, champions to get buy-in from, and your next steps when you return to campus. Our expert instructors will be on-hand to help you build out your plans.



Time for Q&A and Handing out Final Exam Study Guides

As we close Day 2 of the conference, we will have time to debrief about what we have learned so far. You will also receive a study guide for the final exam during this time.



Day Three: “The Tricky Stuff”
March 20, 2019

8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Lunch and post-conference workshop from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.


Leading and Supporting Frontline Service

Our final day will open with an interactive session in which we will share tips and techniques for managing stress in the higher education frontline service environment. You will gain insights into your stress-handling personality and will think about ways you could improve your own stress management techniques.



Delivering No and Other Bad News

As much as we might like to always deliver good news to our students, sometimes the answer is just not what they will want to hear. We will teach you how to properly say no and deliver bad news by managing emotions, moderating expectations, and maintaining control over the situation. You will be given time at the end of the session to role-play with a partner and practice the techniques you learned.



Assisting with Difficult Customers

From students to colleagues, to parents and alumni, you are likely to come across a variety of stakeholders that can be challenging to assist. Our final instructional session will focus on how to manage the occasional difficult and/or potentially volatile situations that you may find yourself in within your institution. Best practices for ensuring safety, escalating the situation and asking for help, and adhering to your service standards will be discussed.



Conference Close: Final Exam and Evaluations

In order to receive your service excellence certification, you must successfully complete a written exam that will help you solidify and demonstrate everything you have learned. The exam should only take about 30 minutes to complete, but you will have the full hour to work on it.



Post-Conference Workshop: Leading Culture Change to Enhance Service Excellence

Customer Service is still a new concept for many within the realm of higher education. This post-conference workshop will focus on how to lead a culture shift towards service excellence at your institution. Our expert facilitator will help those interested in starting a Service Excellence Initiative at their institution identify where to start, how to sustainably roll it out, and how to get buy-in to truly change the culture. You will also discuss how to leverage data to implement and lead new service excellence initiatives and on your campus.

March 18 - 20, 2019

Denver, CO


JW Marriott Cherry Creek
150 Clayton Lane
Denver, CO 80206

Room Rate: $199 plus applicable tax.
Room Block Dates: March 17, 18 and 19, 2019.
Rate available until February 25, 2019.

Please book early - rooms are limited and subject to availability.

Reserve Your Room: Call 303.316.2700. Please indicate that you are with the Academic Impressions group to receive the group rate.


Heath Boice Pardee

Heath Boice-Pardee

Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, Rochester Institute of Technology

Dr. Heath Boice-Pardee has worked as an administrator in higher education for nearly twenty-five years in a variety of administrative and teaching roles. He is currently the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and has served as Interim Senior Vice President for Student Affairs, at Rochester Institute of Technology. Additionally, Heath is an Instructor in the College of Applied Science and Technology at RIT and has developed a higher education administration Master’s concentration focusing on service leadership, customer service, and the student experience.

Read Heath's full bio here.


Emily Richardson

Adjunct Faculty, Queens University of Charlotte and Widener University

Between 2104 and December 21018, Emily Richardson was responsible for the Hayworth Center for Online Learning at Queens University of Charlotte, focused on five fully online programs at the graduate level. Prior to this position, she was the associate vice president for Boundless Learning at Stetson University for two years. She is currently working as an adjunct faculty teaching online for two of her previous institutions.

Read Emily's full bio here.

Eileen Soisson

Eileen Soisson

Executive Director of Training, Development and Service Excellence, Coastal Carolina

Since July 2011, Eileen Soisson has been leading Coastal Carolina University’s service excellence initiative, Feel the Teal®, created to enhance the university’s culture and become more service-oriented and focused on student success. She designed the service excellence program into eight training modules and oversees all operations within the initiative. Eileen teaches university employees and others how to deliver better service within higher education.

Read Eileen's full bio here.

Can't Attend? Buy the Conference Binder

Purchase the conference binder, which includes all presentation slides, worksheets, action plans, and additional resources.

Note: Conference attendees do not need to purchase materials separately.

Questions About the Event?


Kate Poisson
Program Manager, Academic Impressions

Please enter your name.
Please enter a message.