June 2, 2017
Hands on Education for Work at Home Agents
Filed under: Educators
Manager of Education and Development
Virtual Contact Center Education/Curriculum Design
Education by Design
Carla’s career is steeped in education and curriculum design. After earning a Bachelor of Science in elementary education, she taught second grade in the Ohio public school system for three years.
She then moved into the corporate world, taking on the positions of trainer and curriculum designer at Office Depot, where she worked for five years.
That job led to a senior instructional designer and training position with Sports Authority. Later, Carla managed corporate customer service. During her five years there, she also worked in employee relations and recruiting.
In 2006, Sports Authority merged with Gart Sports. Carla was nine months pregnant when her office closed. That’s when she decided to look at work-from-home opportunities.
She submitted an application to Working Solutions, but nothing came of it then. So Carla worked as an agent for various call center companies.
When Working Solutions did call, the company needed instructors—who worked remotely. “I had no idea you could work from home and be able to do that.”
Carla started off as a contract instructor. Over the next five years, she taught agents in 15 client programs, covering several industries. In January 2011, Carla became employed as an agent education specialist, opening the door to curriculum design once again.
The company invests in its agents just as it does its employees, she said. “We want them to be happy because happy agents mean happy clients.” And it’s this caring culture that “sets us apart from competitors.”
In August 2015, Carla became manager of education and development. She now designs curriculum and oversees the instruction of agents for travel companies.
Aside from working with a core group of agents with a strong travel background, Carla’s team of three instructors has the job of onboarding new ones.
It begins with a rigorous six-week course, which is comparable to six months or a year of instruction at a private travel school, she said.
Carla explained her team first gives agents the basics of corporate travel, including hotels, cars and airline bookings. They then teach them how to use the client’s proprietary online booking tool.
That’s followed by an intense course in Sabre, a major global distribution system airlines use for reservations.
With the basics in hand, agents answer some supervised customer calls. They then return for another week of advanced Sabre education. Afterward, they take more monitored calls until graduating from this tier-one instruction.
Dedicated agents are called back 90 to 120 days later for tier-two learning. Here, they study the complexities of global travel, including international fare rules, reservation systems and geography.
From there, tier-three instruction kicks in, with agents learning the fine points of white-glove service to VIP customers. “We want only the best of the best agents taking those calls. These include overflow and weekend calls when our client’s dedicated service team is not available.”
Carla said these top agents also take calls for the client’s Canadian customers when that call center is closed. This requires a special TICO—Travel Industry Council of Ontario—certification for agents.
“We want them to be happy because happy agents mean happy clients.”