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Tech Talk: Travel Agency Trains Staff Online
Posted By Elizabeth Wasserman On October 1, 2009 @ 12:00 am In Business Software | No Comments
Grand Circle Travel, a Boston-based travel chain, has 30 regional offices around the world and 400 employees. The firm sells pre-packaged tours around the world to mature Americans. The company saved time and money and increased productivity by switching to online presentation software to train call center employees about new tours, replacing face-to-face training sessions, John Utter, performance coach and trainer for the call center tells IncTechnology.com
Elizabeth Wasserman: When did your company realize that the use of the Internet could help cut costs?
John Utter: With the advent of a new CEO, we’ve really made a push into Web technology and significantly upgraded our website. Mostly, it’s quite the informational tool for us. We have approximately 120 different types of trips worldwide. Some of those destinations have three or four departures per week. We’ve made a huge investment into the Web portion of our business. We also hired a senior vice president who had experience using Brainshark in a previous job. He brought it on board. Think of it as a voice over PowerPoint delivered over the Web. One of the huge powers is that it does backend reporting. It’s not just a narrated PowerPoint that lives online. The beauty is all the reporting applications to us so that we can use it for product knowledge to get our call center employees up to speed on all the trips we offer. We can do it in an on-demand fashion.
Wasserman: How does it work?
Utter: Normally what would happen is we would pull these employees together and have 15 or 20 associates sit in a classroom for 20 minutes or 30 minutes for presentations and then go back on the phone. Now what happens is it’s all done on demand. They have a library of available sessions or modules or presentations that they can do before work, after work, at home, or in between calls. Missing calls is a huge issue in our business. If the average reservation is a $4,000-$6,000 sales opportunity then missing a call is a missed opportunity.
We’re able to squeeze that in now in between calls and that means we don’t miss those opportunities. If all of a sudden the call volumes slow down, we can have a bunch of people educating themselves about the products. We’re now using it for a variety of marketing purposes as well. We have a group sales division because a lot of groups go with our travel packages. We just finished a presentation to go out to 2,000 retirement communities to solicit their business, as well.
Wasserman: What have the results been?
Utter: In the first week of August, the year-to-date result from January to the end of July was that we dropped $473,000 from the bottom line. Our 200 call center associates received 855 hours of training online on-demand. Not once did they have to be pulled off the phone into a group meeting. We figured we saved 266 reservations in that 855 hours of call time and also gained a half customer service employee based on all the calls saved.
Wasserman: What type of reporting can you gather?
Utter: In terms of product training modules, we can test associates in terms of product knowledge. They are required to get 100 percent. We ask eight to 12 questions to validate their learning and it’s pretty much a pass or fail system. When we send a presentation out to the public, we can track who opened it and how long they spent on it, and the retention rate for every single slide. It’s an extremely powerful tool.
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