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Deadline COB Friday for APTA's Call Center Challenge

December 17, 2009

Contact centers that are for mass transit is literally where the rubber meets the road, or the rail hits the steel. The helpfulness and courtesy of contact center agents, and speed of answer can make a big difference when someone calls or texts to obtain route, schedule or fare information in whether they take a bus, train, or ferry instead of driving. In addition to the farebox impact customers’ experiences will have ballotbox impact: in whether they support continued or increased transit system funding.
 
And transit agencies are not the only beneficiaries of encouraging more people to take mass transit; society as a whole gains. The American Public Transit Association or “APTA” reports riding buses, trains and ferries saves 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline annually: more than three times the amount imported from Kuwait.
 
Communities that invest in public transit reduce the nation’s carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons annually: equivalent to New York City; Washington, DC; Atlanta; Denver; and Los Angeles combined stopping using electricity. When compared to other household actions that limit carbon dioxide, taking public transportation can be 10 times greater in reducing this harmful greenhouse gas.
 
To that end, the APTA has been encouraging transit agency contact center excellence with its Call Center Challenge. Each February, in conjunction with APTA’s Marketing & Communications Workshop, the best public transit contact center personnel face off in a competition to crown the best in the industry. Participants are challenged with real life scenarios and judged on their ability to resolve each scenario in a friendly and professional manner.
 
This February’s event’s is taking place Feb.21-24 2010 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The deadline to get on board with the application is COB applicants’ local time Friday Dec.18.
 
All applicants meeting the eligibility requirements will be assigned a time for their pre-selection phone interview with members of APTA’s Marketing & Communications Committee. The tentative dates for the pre-selection interviews are Jan.7-8 2010. During the interview, contestants will be asked a series of general “get-to-know-you” questions and will be required to resolve two common customer call center inquiries.
 
At the conclusion of all interviews, the judges will determine the seven finalists to compete in the final competition in Ft. Lauderdale. These individuals will be presented with three randomly selected customer service scenarios and will be judged on their ability to handle each inquiry. The contestant with the highest score, as determined by a panel of APTA member judges, will be named public transportation’s best telephone customer information agent.
 
For the 2009 competition there were 70 entries from U.S. and Canadian transit systems.  Robyn Jeoffroy an employee of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority or “MARTA” was crowned champion.
 
“Customer service is a vital skill in the public transportation industry and Ms. Jeoffroy has shown her skills in handling customer relations are exemplary and a model for others,” said APTA president William W. Millar. 

Brendan B. Read is TMCnet’s Senior Contributing Editor. To read more of Brendan’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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