Course Syllabus

Welcome to CUST104: Business Communications

Specific information about this course and its requirements can be found below. For more general information about taking Saylor Academy courses, including information about Community and Academic Codes of Conduct, please read the Student Handbook.

Course Description

Learn how to plan, produce, and perform acts of communication that satisfy the most demanding audience: your customers.

Course Introduction

It would be impossible to find the first person who noted that good service is good business. However, if you want to find someone who said it recently, just ask any businessperson about the relationship between business and service. Adam Toporek, writing on the blog Customers That Stick, asked 19 business experts to define customer service. "Customer service is the act of providing your customer with something they need, want, or value", one expert responded. Another said that it is the "deliberate practice to put ourselves in our customers' shoes". The definition Toporek recorded that best represents the approach this course takes toward the subject is "customer service means NOT reading from a script, but instead reading the customer".

This course will not tell you what to say during your business communications or when to say it. Instead, you will learn how to plan, produce, and perform acts of communication that satisfy the most demanding audience: your customers. Communication is the stage on which customer service superstars perform, so this course begins by taking you onstage to familiarize you with the communication process and the elements that influence it, influence you, and influence your audience. Next, the course takes you out into the audience, teaching you the techniques needed to adjust your performance based on who you see out there and what you hear coming from them. The course then addresses your actual performance, providing guidelines for good writing, to ensure you have an excellent script, and good speaking, so that your performance is a success. The course concludes by considering the customer service equivalent of the set, props, and costumes: the visual aspects of the customers' experience that frame you in their minds and create lasting impressions long after you have left the stage.

This course includes the following units:

  • Unit 1: Understanding Communication
  • Unit 2: Knowing Your Customers
  • Unit 3: Listening to Your Customers
  • Unit 4: Providing Information for Customers
  • Unit 5: Speaking to Customers
  • Unit 6: Creating a Visual Impression

Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • analyze the types of communications that impact customer service;
  • differentiate between customer types and needs by applying marketing segmentation techniques;
  • apply effective listening techniques in business situations;
  • interpret verbal and non-verbal types of communication;
  • distinguish between written and verbal communications;
  • recognize business writing styles and techniques;
  • evaluate the appropriateness of various techniques for writing business documents;
  • analyze effective conversational styles for face-to-face and telephone exchanges;
  • distinguish between the elements that impact consumer responses in retail settings; and
  • discuss the factors that create a positive self-image and the role this plays in customer service activities.

Throughout this course, you will also see learning outcomes in each unit. You can use those learning outcomes to help organize your studies and gauge your progress.

Course Materials

The primary learning materials for this course are articles, lectures, and videos.

All course materials are free to access and can be found in each unit of the course. Pay close attention to the notes that accompany these course materials, as they will tell you what to focus on in each resource, and will help you to understand how the learning materials fit into the course as a whole. You can also see a list of all the learning materials in this course by clicking on Resources in the navigation bar.

Evaluation and Minimum Passing Score

Only the final exam is considered when awarding you a grade for this course. In order to pass this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the final exam. Your score on the exam will be calculated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first try, you may take it again as many times as you want, with a 7-day waiting period between each attempt. Once you have successfully passed the final exam you will be awarded a free Course Completion Certificate.

There are also short quizzes in this course. These are designed to help you study, and do not factor into your final course grade. You can take these as many times as you want until you understand the concepts and material covered. You can see all of these assessments by clicking on Quizzes in the course's navigation bar.

Tips for Success

CUST104: Business Communications is a self-paced course, which means that you can decide when you will start and when you will complete the course. There is no instructor or an assigned schedule to follow. We estimate that the "average" student will take 42 hours to complete this course. We recommend that you work through the course at a pace that is comfortable for you and allows you to make regular progress. It's a good idea to also schedule your study time in advance and try as best as you can to stick to that schedule.

Learning new material can be challenging, so we've compiled a few study strategies to help you succeed:

  • Take notes on the various terms, practices, and theories that you come across. This can help you put each concept into context, and will create a refresher that you can use as you study later on.
  • As you work through the materials, take some time to test yourself on what you remember and how well you understand the concepts. Reflecting on what you've learned is important for your long-term memory, and will make you more likely to retain information over time.
  • Although you may work through this course completely independently, you may find it helpful to connect with other Saylor students through the discussion forums. You may access the discussion forums at

Technical Requirements

This course is delivered entirely online. You will be required to have access to a computer or web-capable mobile device and have consistent access to the internet to either view or download the necessary course resources and to attempt any auto-graded course assessments and the final exam.

  • To access the full course including assessments and the final exam, you will need to be logged into your Saylor Academy account and enrolled in the course. If you do not already have an account, you may create one for free here. Although you can access some of the course without logging in to your account, you should log in to maximize your course experience. For example, you cannot take assessments or track your progress unless you are logged in.

For additional guidance, check out Saylor Academy's FAQ.


This course is entirely free to enroll in and to access. Everything linked in the course, including textbooks, videos, webpages, and activities, is available for no charge. This course also contains a free final exam and course completion certificate.

Last modified: Monday, February 8, 2021, 4:47 PM