Brampton Transit is a two-facility system in the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario with 185 buses and 550 employees. Brampton Transit was an original Transit Ambassador subscriber and decided to implement the new program, blending it with its other existing training programs.
Laurie Leece, Brampton Transit’s supervisor of training and safety, says, “The reason we chose Transit Ambassador was the flexibility of the program and the high quality of customer service it would allow us to provide.”
Brampton Transit used the flexibility of the program to integrate it into its existing courses. Leece explains, “We use Transit Ambassador training with both new hires and experienced operators. We deliver the four core modules to new hires: ‘The Essentials of Customer Service,’ ‘Effective Communication,’ ‘Managing Customer Feedback’ and ‘Managing Stress.’ They provide a great segue for a corporate conflict resolution program we have developed and they lead in very well to what we already have. For refresher training we use the condensed version of ‘The Essentials of Customer Service’ blended with our in-house materials. For the future we are looking at bringing in the ‘Advance Customer Service Module for the Experienced Operator’ for refresher training.
“What the trainers find so valuable is that they can split the program up so it doesn’t have to be delivered in one big block. They can break it up between driving and other training. They also appreciate the ease of use and the current, firsthand examples and experiences the program introduces — it’s something the trainers and the operators can relate to.”
Brampton Transit also took advantage of the professional development opportunities for its trainers. Leece states, “The Train-the-Trainer program was very valuable for our trainers. It was very professional and I can see them now putting on their ‘Transit Ambassador’ hat. They’re very proud of themselves for the accomplishment of certifying as a Transit Ambassador facilitator and they have been recognized for it.”
At Brampton Transit, it has seen positive results from Transit Ambassador at both the anecdotal and statistical levels. “We brought in one of our ‘problem’ operators with one of the highest complaint records for Transit Ambassador training. Later, during a ride-around the supervisor witnessed this operator handle an irate passenger very well,” Leece says. “Because of the customer service training he received, I think he handled it much better than he would have without.”
At Brampton Transit, they realize that for any training initiative to be successful, it needs to be an integral part of other organizational efforts. “We incorporated Transit Ambassador into our operational performance management plan to reduce customer complaints. As part of an organization-wide effort to improve customer service, Transit Ambassador has helped decrease customer complaints in the last year,” says Leece.
The Transit Ambassador program was referred to Sound Transit, a multi-modal transit agency in Seattle, Wash., by another organization when it was looking for training for its newly hired station attendants. The agency had its ‘internal ducks’ in a row, but because of the short time frame required to roll out the training, it decided to bring in a CUTA Master Trainer to deliver the program. The agency used the four core modules plus, to address specific needs in the organization, selected ‘Effective Announcements,’ ‘Difficult Situation’ and ‘Dangerous Situations.’
Sue McKim, project coordinator at Sound Transit, says, “The Transit Ambassador program is excellent; the videos and all the materials are very realistic and helpful in getting across to new employees the experience they are going to encounter on a daily basis. It is right-on and resonates with our staff. The program is very effective in that it shows actual situations of what employees are going to encounter across the range, from day-to-day encounters to difficult and dangerous situations; from everyday conflict like a customer running late to a situation when an employee might experience a harassment event.”