County employees to take customer service class

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 29, 2009

NATCHEZ — Adams County and City of Natchez employees may soon learn to smile with their voices.

At the last board of supervisors meeting, the board voted to make etiquette classes available to all county employees.

The course, offered by Copiah-Lincoln Community College, is a two-hour long session that teaches the art of customer service and how to maintain professionalism in the face of adversity.

Email newsletter signup

Courses will be offered at different times during a week so employees from all offices will be able to attend sessions without putting strain on their offices.

“This is something we can bring to county employees that wouldn’t cost the county anything,” Co-Lin’s Wesson Campus’ Workforce Development Coordinator Angela Berch said.

“We have a great service to offer to business and industries in this area. As you educate and train your workforce, that will make Natchez and Adams County more appealing.”

Mayor Jake Middleton said he agreed with Berch’s reasoning and wants city employees to participate in the program as well.

“I just feel like sometimes the only communication an individual has with the city might be through a phone call,” Middleton said. “I think that it’s important that our staff remember these people who are calling you are paying your salary.”

Middleton said he doesn’t want employees to attend the courses because of anything they’ve done wrong, but because he wants to ensure customer service continues to excel.

“I’ve been up here for almost a year and a half now, and I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a call saying someone at City Hall had been rude,” Middleton said.

Supervisor Mike Lazarus said he had heard reports that county employees had communicated poorly with citizens over the phone.

“I just though this would be something good for our employees to participate in,” Lazarus said. “From time to time, we get complaints.”

Lazarus said the course could also help with tourism in the county.

“We’re supposed to be a tourist destination, and the first person they meet might have something to do with the county,” Lazarus said. “The county is a business and we need to remember that.”

“I think we’ve got good employees, but I think sometimes we just forget to throw in that little smile and hello in there,” Lazarus said.

Co-Lin’s etiquette course is not only being offered to the county and city, but is also available to local businesses as well.

Chamber of Commerce President CEO Debbie Hudson said she had been getting the word out about the course to Natchez businesses.

“What we’re doing is letting businesses, small or large, know what is available to them in work force training for free,” Hudson said.

The chamber will host an informational meeting at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 8 at the Hampton Inn Suites for businesses to come ask questions about the course and see if it’s what they are looking for in terms of work training.

“We’re partnering with them to make sure the business community is aware of the things Co-Lin has for them for free,” Hudson said.

No definite starting date has been set for courses to begin, but communication between the county, city, the chamber and Co-Lin is ongoing.