Customer Service Excellence On-Demand Training

Service is who we are.

Make service your competitive advantage.

Excellent customer service stems from strong strategies, approaches, and techniques that anyone can leverage. Cornell University’s Service Excellence On-Demand Training offers employees eight online lessons exploring the foundations of service delivery, complemented by a Workshop Guide to facilitate on-site discussion and localization of concepts.

About the Training

Service Experience Cycle

Delivering great customer service isn’t simply a skill that some possess and others do not. The Cornell University Service Excellence On-Demand Training provides organizations and team members with a framework for critical thinking and techniques that can be adopted by customer-facing employees in any role. It provides tools that can be applied to any situation involving internal or external customers.

Applying a strategic approach to delivering customer service improves employees’ effectiveness at assessing and delivering what customers need, when they need it. An approach centered on critical thinking rather than situation-based responses reduces errors, identifies potential problems before they start, and keeps difficult, stressful interactions from getting out of control. Armed with tools to read customers and manage constantly changing situations, employees will be more productive in their organization. Introducing broad service training will better equip team members to deliver on an organization’s specific service promise, ultimately improving the customer experience and driving increased revenue.

Who Should Enroll?

The Service Excellence On-Demand Training is exclusively designed for organizations. Within the organization it is applicable for anyone who works directly with internal or external customers.

Hospitality as an industry is well known for providing service, but organizations across service industries—including healthcare, financial services, retail, senior living, etc.—need to be adept at delivering excellent customer service and will benefit from this training.

Cornell’s content is designed to supplement existing organizational training and enhance task-based training.

Training Details

Blended learning approach: Employees first learn, practice, and demonstrate service-excellence concepts and strategies through eight online, self-paced lessons. Supervisors and managers then facilitate face-to-face meetings with their teams using the detailed Service Excellence Workshop Guide. The Workshop Guide includes instructions and pointers for facilitators as well as detailed questions to ensure that employees connect service-excellence concepts to the execution of their daily duties, tasks, and responsibilities. Concepts and strategies learned in the online portion are contextualized at the unit level to improve retention and reinforce company standards.

Learning time: Four to six hours total for online lessons; recommended 30 minutes per lesson for each facilitated workshop event. On-demand training can be taken over time, lesson-by-lesson, or all in one day.

Technology: Learners are required to have access to a web-enabled device. Training lessons can be accessed via desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile device.

Recognition: Learners who successfully complete all eight lessons will receive recognition of their achievement from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration.


Authored By

Elizabeth Martyn ’07, Cornell University School of Hotel Administration

Elizabeth Martyn has extensive experience in the luxury and ultra-luxury travel and guest services industry. Her past responsibilities have included managing operations, employee training and development, and creating full-service travel and accommodation experiences both domestically and internationally. She is a former undergraduate-core-curriculum instructor at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. Elizabeth holds a bachelor’s degree in Hotel Administration from Cornell University.

In collaboration with School of Hotel Administration faculty:

Reneta McCarthy, Senior Lecturer; Cheryl Stanley, Lecturer; J. Bruce Tracey, Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs; Rohit Verma, Professor and Dean of External Relations, Cornell College of Business and Executive Director, Institute for Healthy Futures.

Learning Outcomes

  • Apply routine customer interactions to the Cornell Service Experience Cycle; identify opportunities for improvement and strategies for implementing those opportunities
  • Leverage the PERC Toolkit, including Poise, Empathy, Resourcefulness, and Caring, to deliver more effective service
  • Read clues in the customer and the environment to inform service strategies and appropriately customize service delivery
  • Draw on best practices when handling difficult situations and resolving conflict
  • Identify opportunities for service recovery and correctly categorize recovery errors and appropriate responses
  • Improve communication by consciously considering audience, message, and method of delivery
  • Employ the Listen, Observe, Ask method to strengthen all customer interactions

Training Lessons


Cornell Service Experience Cycle

This cycle defines all customer service experiences including in-person, over the phone, or digital platform interactions. Understanding the cycle provides critical opportunities to address flaws and improve service, and ensures that customer needs are being properly met during real-world interactions.

Your PERC Toolkit

Identify the four critical characteristics of Your PERC Toolkit and demonstrate Poise, Empathy, Resourcefulness, and Caring throughout the work environment and during customer interactions.

Skills Development

Contextual Sensitivity

Define and look for customer and environmental clues. Use these clues to assess situations and adapt and customize service strategies throughout the Service Experience Cycle.

Anticipating Needs

Explore proactive versus reactive styles and the benefits of acting with a proactive approach. Leverage skills to identify areas of improvement in the customer experience and the employee workday experience.


Share information and engage more effectively through an understanding of how audience, message, and method of delivery influence how well other people receive your communication. Explore written, verbal, and non-verbal communication methods. Identify distractions in communication styles that may cause misunderstandings.

Managing Customer Interactions

Listen, Observe, Ask

Gain practical strategies to make the most of each customer interaction. Use active listening techniques and apply question words to problem-solve and practice thorough communication. Adjust your response to changing customer clues.

Strategies for Conflict Resolution

Conflict is a part of the workplace; understand how it is also a unique type of customer exchange. Know how to stay safe in difficult interactions and reach out to appropriate resources when situations escalate. Identify opportunities for apologies and strategies for times when an apology is not appropriate. Practice respect for emotions, both your own and your customer’s.

Strategies for Service Recovery

Service recovery is a necessary and important step in every organization. Identify types of service failures through the Failure Matrix as well as appropriate responses for each type of failure. Think outside the box; consider new and novel approaches for service recovery.


Contact Us

Cornell Executive Education

Phone: 607.255.6541

Cornell SC Johnson College of Business
209 Dryden Road, 4th Fl.
Ithaca, NY 14850 USA

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