Customer Information Support Specialist Program Satisfies St. Louis Workforce Needs

By on January 30, 2019
Customer Information Support Specialist Training

The Customer Information Support Specialist (CISS) program at St. Louis Community College prepares students to enter customer service, office administration, office management and accounting fields. Currently delivered at no cost to the students, instructor Keith Turner says the skill set learned adds value to any workplace environment. The class covers Microsoft applications, financial literacy, cybersecurity, customer service and soft skills, in addition to the opportunity to improve resumes and practice job interviews. At the end of the course, students take Microsoft Office Specialist exams for Excel and Word along with proficiency tests in PowerPoint and Outlook.

Few people realize Microsoft Excel’s full potential, notes Turner. “It means a lot of different things to different people,” he said. The certification exam presented at the end of the course helps employers understand the extent of an applicant’s knowledge, covering material such as how to calculate future or present values, basic averages, charting and graphs.

Most students begin the course “like a deer in headlights,” said Turner. After displaying trust in the process, however, students leave the program with strengthened understanding of foundational skills. The curriculum prepares students for entry-level roles in many industries including finance, which according to the 2018 State of the St. Louis Workforce report, is an area of need in the St. Louis metro area. Finance employers ranked customer service highest among the functional area shortages at 32 percent.

Turner explains that most people believe they know Excel because they can create a spreadsheet. In the CISS program, students’ understanding builds far beyond the basics. Students learn the importance of using Excel functions and formulas to tell the story about business health. Instructors agreed that the finance and mathematical processes learned in CISS streamline operations and decision making.

Each student in the program learns new skills, no matter their previous experience. “I’m excited about the growth and excitement that I see when students go from doubting themselves to really understanding and achieving,” Turner said.

The CISS program runs Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., for 12 weeks. Although it requires 100 percent attention and dedication, the instructors and students alike believe that it’s worth the commitment.

“What’s most important is that anytime you’re making an investment in yourself, it takes time and sacrifice,” Turner said. As the saying goes, “Nothing in life that’s worth anything is easy.”

Applications are currently being accepted for the next Customer Information Support Specialist class, which begins March 18. To register or learn more, please visit

About Laura Davis

Laura Davis is a Marketing Communications Coordinator at St. Louis Community College’s Workforce Solution Group, which delivers non-credit continuing education opportunities, corporate training and community services to the St. Louis region.

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