NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Stephen F. Austin State University students and staff members within the School of Human Sciences recently completed Texas Friendly Hospitality Training to hone their customer-service skills and receive their Texas Friendly certification.

Dr. Chay Runnels, associate professor and hospitality administration program coordinator at SFA, has been a Texas Friendly instructor for 16 years and recently conducted a training session on campus.

"This certification is recognized throughout the state," Runnels said. "It gives participants a competitive edge against others. Also, potential employers recognize the training and know participants have been through valuable customer-service training."

During the training, students and staff members attended workshops where they watched videos, discussed real-life situations and role-played scenarios.

Sara Ross, SFA junior food, nutrition and dietetics major from Minneapolis, was a participant and said she enjoyed watching videos about Southwest Airlines and Pike Place Market, as well as examining her strengths and weaknesses regarding personal hospitality skills.

"Taking inventory of one's skills and personality can be a daunting task, but it is a necessary facet for personal development," Ross said.

The training was organized around the CIVIL framework, which focuses on culture, internal customers, value, ideal commitments and listening. Runnels said this helps trainees learn the importance of their roles as frontline employees.

Ross, who also is a student worker for SFA's School of Human Sciences and a research assistant for SFA's James I. Perkins College of Education, gained lessons she hopes to use in her career.

"The training gave me perspective on how successful companies can operate by recognizing the individuals within," Ross said. "It also made me recognize that having fun at work while encouraging others to do the same is key to success. If you are friendly to coworkers and incorporate humor into the day, this attitude will certainly radiate to the customers."