A Client Centered Approach: Client Services Team Sets Learners On the Right Path

2011-2012 Issue 2

Members of the Client Services Team

Learners and prospective learners at McGill’s School of Continuing Studies’ come to Client Services with all manner of questions: Which of the School’s programs is right for me? Are there pre-requisite courses? How can I be certain I’m prepared to graduate, and what’s the best way to make sure that my studies will lead to a job?


Fortunately, Gianna Giardino and her team know where to find the answers. “Our clients want quick, efficient, no-hassle services,” says Giardino, Senior Manager of Client Services. “So we have to be very client-centred and attentive to their needs.”


Those needs, Giardino explains, vary widely. Most learners at the School are working professionals looking to get a leg up in their jobs or to change careers altogether. “Some of them come to Client Services and they don’t know which program of study is best for them, so they need to see an advisor to help guide them, to see what courses and programs would be of most interesting and useful to them,” Giardino says. “Our goal is to make sure that our learners are on the path they want to be on and offer them not only academic advising but also career guidance to meet their needs.”


Each year, the School welcomes learners from a host of countries, including China, Japan, Saudi Arabia and Mexico. “Learners come to our School to learn English and French and to gain language proficiency,” Giardino says. “There are language barriers, so our personnel’s advising skills and ability to understand what the clients are looking for become very important factors in attracting and retaining learners, no matter which academic path they take at the School.


But ensuring learners are registered and ready to begin classes is only part of the Client Services team’s job. Client Services has partnered with groups elsewhere at McGill, along with various experts, to offer workshops on the fundamentals of university-level course work, such as writing, note-taking and time management, all tailored to the very specific needs of learners at the School.


“When they come back to school, we notice that many learners are concerned about balancing academic demands with the other realities in their lives.” Giardino says. With that in mind, the School hosts sessions designed to teach students with jobs and families how to maximize the time they devote to their schoolwork. Ultimately, Client Services aims to offer a range of services under one roof, accessible face to face, over the phone and online.


“We’re trying to build an educational business centre,” Giardino says. “It’s always great to see when students walk out of here that we’ve helped them continue with their studies or complete their diploma. Because in essence, we’re helping them better their lives and achieve their goals.”

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