Cruise Planners/American Express, the nation’s largest home-based travel agent franchise network in the cruise industry, launched the Communication Coach program for its home-based travel agents. The computer-based technology, created by Success Sciences, is a simulated training tool that teaches agents to build their interpersonal skills when speaking to customers by telephone.
“Whether they are new to Cruise Planners, a seasoned agent or expert in the industry, we all need to practice our craft,” said Terri Burke, senior vice president of relationship marketing for Cruise Planners/American Express. “No matter what skill level you are at, there is always room for improvement and the Communication Coach can help agents learn the best way to express their professional communications skills.”
Specifically designed to enable users to practice the selling skills of listening, exploring and asking open-ended questions, agents using the program will build the techniques they need to respond to commonly asked questions, objections and other concerns that stand in the way of a successful sale.
The online tool provides communication scenarios that are common in the cruise industry, such as ways to approach and handle a hesitant buyer, Cruise Planners says. Agents can listen to conversations between a travel agent and buyer, practice their word choice and voice inflections with a simulated conversation and record their own practiced conversations – all in the comfort of their own home and at their own convenience.
“The purpose for us utilizing this great tool is not just solely to increase our sales, but to build up the confidence and communications skills of our home-based agents,” said Burke. “We want all of our agents to be successful with each client they speak to and if Communication Coach can help them excel in customer satisfaction, the benefit of making the sale is just a small fraction of what the agents take from this tool.”
Royal Caribbean International, which is currently using the system at its call centers with great success, is sponsoring the program for Cruise Planners. The only tools the agents need to participate in Communication Coach are the internet, a microphone for recording and headphones, which is being provided by Cruise Planners.