The Signature Counter Experience is a new two-part, 7-hour course introduced by the Probate & Family Court. 

“It’s our hope to introduce this training court-wide over the next couple of years,” says Court Administrator Harry Spence. “The counter is at the heart of every courthouse, and is a key part of improving the overall daily experience of court users and court employees alike.”

Launched this year with Probate & Family Court employees, the program provides court staff with new perspectives about some of the challenges court users often bring when they walk through the doors of a courthouse. The course also explores court staff as individuals, and how their personal experiences and background impact the interactions they have with court users.

“The counter is the front door to the court system,” explains Probate & Family Court Chief Justice Angela Ordoñez, who requested the program be developed. “It’s where people often have the first interaction with the court. The way they feel towards that first interaction sets the tone. That’s why each interaction at the counter needs to be a premium, ‘signature’ experience. We want to impart to the front line that they are likely to be involved in creating a court user's first impression of the court system, and how we want that first impression to be positive."

The course, designed to be a collaborative experience for all levels of court personnel, uses role play and other experiential, real-world exercises to help court staff develop customer service skills and understanding towards those coming to court.

So far, most court employees who have taken the training report that it’s been an eye-opening experience.

“I liked the fact that we could really speak our minds and be open about difficult situations we’ve faced, how we dealt with them, and how we might do things differently going forward,” said Don Hickey, Operations Supervisor.

“The training felt very ‘real’ to me – it deals with real issues and the various types of work that we do. I walked away with a better understanding of where court users are coming from when they’re at our court,” said Case Coordinator Domingas Brandao. 

Connecting the dots in Middlesex County. After completing the course, counter staff at the Middlesex Probate & Family Court found it helpful to spend a half-day in the courtroom to see what happens to the paperwork and forms they file on behalf of court users.