Customer Service Management Certificate Program

Offered once a year, as part of the Academy Education Institute. Receive practical training and guidance on building and sustaining a culture of outstanding customer service. Learn from real-world examples, get tools and templates, practice skills, and network with public power peers from across the nation.

Download the Customer Service Management Certificate Program brochure [PDF]


Location Dates Schedule Registration

Fall Institute

San Antonio, Texas

Sept. 30 - Oct. 3, 2019

Monday - Thursday
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Opening May, 2019

Program Description

Nurturing customer relationships and meeting customer needs are as critical to your utility’s success as keeping the lights on. Customer preferences are evolving, and expectations for instant access to information and support are increasing. As a public power utility, your organization needs the support and goodwill of the communities you serve.

APPA’s Customer Service Management Certification Program provides practical training and guidance on how to build and sustain a culture of outstanding customer service involving all stakeholders—utility employees, governing board members, and city officials. This program explores the mainstays of good customer service and how everyone at your organization can uphold them.

Those who complete the program’s five required courses, pass an online exam, and successfully file a customer service assessment or improvement project plan within one year of completing the coursework will earn a Public Power Customer Service Manager certificate.

Who Should Attend

This program focuses on developing a culture of excellence in customer service among all public power utility employees and governing officials. Therefore, while the course content is designed for customer service managers, supervisors, and representatives, the course is also recommended for utility senior managers with cross-departmental responsibilities, governing board representatives, and senior officials.

What to Bring

Participants will have the opportunity to introduce their customer service operations through photos and discussion. Attendees will be asked to provide 5-10 digital photos showing the exterior and interior of their customer service/billing operations, if possible. Additionally, the class will compare different bill styles, websites, and communications tools. Participants can provide sample utility bills, newsletters, bill stuffers or links to online resources in advance of the class.

What You'll Receive

Attendees will receive a copy of the Association’s Customer Service: Building a Strong Infrastructure for Your Utility publication and the latest Public Power Customer Service Policies Survey Report. As part of the leadership class, participants will also receive a personalized report and develop an action plan based on the results from their Birkman Method workplace assessment, which will be completed in advance of the course.

Program Requirements

To earn this certificate, participants must complete all requirements within one year: 1. Complete the five required courses (2019 schedule below):

  • Electric Utility Industry Overview*
  • Utilizing Technology to Enhance Customer Service
  • Strategies for Successful Customer Service Operations
  • Utility Collections: Trends & Challenges
  • Modeling Customer Service in Your Leadership Style

*Participants who can demonstrate knowledge of the utility industry, through work experience or coursework, may opt-out of this course. Contact [email protected] for more information.

2. Pass an online exam

3. Submit a plan for a customer service assessment or service improvement project 

Certificate Completion Requirements

After completing the required coursework, participants must:

1. Pass an online exam

  • The online exam, made up of multiple choice questions, will assess the participant’s comprehension of the five required courses.
  • Participants can take the exam at their convenience, after finishing the coursework requirement.
  • An individual must score at least a 75% to pass the exam. You’ll have two opportunities to pass the test.

2. Submit a plan for a customer service department assessment or service improvement project

  • Participants will complete a project that focuses on evaluating and improving the customer service culture and operations of your organization.
  • Participants will receive plan guidelines that outline what is expected in each section.


Participants must complete the program requirements within one year of attending their last course in the certificate program.

Please contact our Education Department at 202-467-2919 or [email protected].

About the Instructors

Patricia Cruz, Vice President of Consulting & Training, Hometown Connections. For nearly 20 years, Patty has helped utilities set a strategic destination for the future and then direct operations towards that vision. Her areas of expertise include achieving organizational effectiveness, strategic planning, change management, communications, stakeholder engagement, process improvement, and customer satisfaction. Her focus is on improving the performance of public power’s corporate culture, workforce issues, customer service, and community relations.

Steve VanderMeer, Senior Vice President of Planning and Marketing, Hometown Connections. Steve joined Hometown Connections in 1998 and provides consulting, training and facilitation support to public power utilities and their governing boards. He has worked with a wide range of municipal governments and non-profit organizations on strategic planning, governance, organizational assessments, public participation, market research and customer service issues. He is the author of the Association’s Customer Service: Building a Strong Infrastructure for Your Utility publication. Previously, Steve worked at Fort Collins Utilities where he was the Director of Marketing and Energy Services.

How Can I Participate?

Attend an Education Institute

Customer Service Management Certificate Program classes are held once a year, in conjunction with one of our seasonal education institutes (winter, spring, or fall), and they provide a great opportunity to network with industry peers from across the nation.

The next offering will be in conjunction with our Fall Education Institute, Sept. 30 - Oct. 3 in San Antonio, Texas. Registration opens in May.

Let Us Come To You!

We can bring our courses to your location at any time—a convenient and cost-effective option for groups of eight or more. This format also allows you to customize course content to address the specific goals that are important to your organization.

Pool Your Resources

Partner with neighboring public power utilities, state and regional associations, or joint action agencies to bring the training to your area. This is a great way to share costs and to secure a location that is within driving distance (ideal for utilities facing strict travel guidelines or joint action agencies looking to add services to their members).
For more information, contact 202-467-2921 or email [email protected]