Events & Training

Transit Ambassador

CUTA's Transit Ambassador program will help your transit system create or expand on a culture of customer service by empowering your employees with skills to better handle the many situations that arise when interacting with a customer. This program is very flexible and customizable. Use it as is "off the shelf," or modify it to meet your specific implementation objectives.

The Transit Ambassador program is composed of a series of training modules that address crucial topics and everyday scenarios in transit customer service. These modules are grouped as follows:

Transit Ambassador train-the-trainer: core modules

The train-the-trainer core modules are the prerequisite for this program. This 5-day certification course addresses the fundamental issues of customer service in its content and develops the skills of the person/people in your organization who will be facilitating the program. Even seasoned trainers who have taken this course say that it is the most thorough feedback and coaching for trainers that they have ever received. This is the quality cornerstone that CUTA has set as an industry standard over the past 20 years. Trainers who have achieved certification as a Transit Ambassador Trainer know what it takes to complete the process and managers know that their staff have achieved a high level of training for our industry.  Best of all, upon completion of the core modules certification program, CUTA continues to support and coach the newly certified trainers with additional programs.

This module introduces the basic principles of customer service as they apply to the transit environment. It is an effective introduction for new recruits and for refresher sessions. Training principles include the concepts of customer service as a job expectation rather than value added, and that customers are both external (passengers/public) and internal (transit team). The definition of excellent customer service is explored throughout the module. The focus of the learning objectives and behavior keys is to equip frontline operators with customer service skills that are immediately usable at work.

Communicating effectively in public-contact situations is the theme of this module, concentrating on how to listen, observe and speak while maintaining respect for the customer, avoiding misunderstandings and verifying comprehension of the message. Content includes the use of and understanding of active listening, non-verbal communication, question skills, as well as problem-solving communication breakdown scenarios. Tasks and videos are based on real operator communication experiences.

This module facilitates an understanding of why people complain, and encourages employees to take advantage of the opportunity to address a situation positively. The principle of this component is that a complaint is preferable to a silent dissatisfied customer as it allows the situation to be addressed and explained. It encourages employees to handle complaints without becoming defensive or taking them personally, remaining professional, calm and in control. Practical behavior strategies are practiced in various interactive activities.

This module acknowledges the high stress level involved in operating a transit vehicle while maintaining a pleasant disposition towards all customers. It recognizes the difference between positive and negative stress, and allows participants to identify specific symptoms and their causes. Participants develop personalized de-stressing techniques that can be used to relieve stress on the job.

Transit Ambassador train-the-trainer: advanced modules

Handling inappropriate customer behaviour is a very sensitive matter. In this module, participants discover how to avert or minimize potential conflict and defuse anger while dealing with customer disruptions, fare disputes, vandalism or other difficult situations. Operators are trained to identify and deal with situations that range through the "different–difficult–dangerous" spectrum. The focus is on defusing a situation before it moves up the scale from different to dangerous.

This module works best in conjunction with 'difficult situations' to reinforce identification and de-escalation skills. The module training focuses on operator safety in situations that could become violent. There are four video segments dealing with the topics of personal threat, theft, bomb scares, drunkenness, use of weapons, (pre-meditated with a knife and spontaneous with a broken beer bottle) as well as external violence resulting from road rage. Participants practice developing responses from video scenarios.

Understanding and interacting effectively with diverse customers and work teams is the focus of this module. Types of diversity are identified and system diversity policies are reviewed. Guidelines for working in a diverse community are discussed and participants practice appropriate responses to sensitive transit case studies.

Transit Ambassador train-the-trainer: refresher training

This module was developed as a refresher session for new operators 6 months to 1 year into the job of transit operator. The aim of this module is to review the key and core elements of the core modules and assist new operators with on-the-job customer service issues they have encountered. This module is an excellent support for new operators in transferring training skills and knowledge from the classroom to the daily job. It provides an opportunity to clarify issues that have come up since training and reinforce positive customer service strategies.

This module is intended to review and refresh customer service skills with experienced operators, with a focus on how customers and the service they require has changed along with many other aspects of transit. The module reviews the customer service objectives and keys in the 4 core Mmdules and relates them to the operator's current experiences. The goal is to reinforce positive service practices and a strong set of customer service values to keep service skills and strategies fresh in the minds of employees.

Transit Ambassador train-the-trainer: Transit Vision 2040 modules – Accelerating a new customer orientation

This module is intended for non-front line staff. The content reviews the objectives and keys from the core modules and provides all staff with an understanding of their role in customer service through the concept of internal customers. The impact of their actions on customers and operating staff is reviewed in several scenarios. This module reinforces the concept that all transit staff must provide excellent customer service and fosters a true sense of teamwork across the entire organization. Many tasks from the 4 core modules for frontline staff are repeated in this module to provide a common foundation on which to build a customer-focused organization.

This module can be presented to a varied audience of managers and supervisors in the transit system. It is a flexible program that adapts to participant needs with a "why I'm here" pre-session survey. Participants practice using the Transit Ambassador principles of customer service with employees and better understand the customer-service keys frontline staff are expected to use. Strategies to remove barriers to excellent customer service are discussed. Coaching tips are reviewed to assist participants in coaching their employees in Transit Ambassador skills.

Transit Ambassador train-the-trainer

This module concentrates on the development of specific skills for giving service to customers with a variety of challenges (new to the area/non-English speaker, physical disabilities, limited mental capacity, etc.) who require extra attention on a regular bus route. Identifying situations, determining how to be of assistance and following through in an efficient manner are key elements of this module.

This module specifically addresses public announcement skills, for use on-board as well as in a station environment. Routine, non-routine and emergency situations are covered, recognizing that not being kept informed is one of the major complaints voiced by transit passengers. Content includes pronunciation, clarity and volume. Participants practice giving and critiquing effective announcements.

Transit Ambassador: train-the-trainer materials

When transit systems enroll their trainers in a Transit Ambassador train-the-trainer session, CUTA master trainers equip the trainer with the materials needed to deliver this program throughout the organization. The trainer will receive a copy of each of the 4-core modules, and this will allow the trainer to begin training your front-line staff as soon as they are certified. Each module contains a facilitator's guide, a leader's guide and the multi-media electronic files of these guides so trainers are able to print out and use as many participant guides as they need. In addition, the media contains the presentation needed to deliver the training as well as the demo videos that are used to accompany each module.

They are provided with the knowledge and facilitation skills needed to return to their work and implement their own training programs. This gives the transit system the freedom to train other employees and transfer these new skills.

Train-the-trainer participants feel an immense amount of accomplishment upon completion of our programs and they carry their new skills with confidence back into the workforce.

Transit Ambassador subscribers

The Transit Ambassador license fee is a one-time investment, and once systems purchase the program, they do not need to pay for upgrade fees for new versions. Transit systems and authorities that have not yet migrated to the 2008 version of the program can contact us to find out more about how to move to the new program. To date, there are 66 Canadian organizations using this program, 52 transit authorities in the US, and 30 systems Internationally.  Transit Ambassador is currently available in English and French.