Tuesday, January 30, 2007

All telephone lines lead to Victoria

“What we’re doing is streamlining the process.”

Well that is always a fateful quote when a company issues that one, and for the north coast it means that all ferry reservations will now be handled from a central office in Victoria, as the Ferry Corporation moves its northern phone reservation services off of the North Coast.

Starting this week, local residents and those heading this way will call the centralized number out of Victoria for reservations, weather conditions and sailing delay information.

In an interesting approach to customer service, anyone looking to gain information from the local office will have to actually drive or walk down to the Fairview Terminal and look for somebody to talk to, as the phone numbers will eventually not be made public.

BC Ferries says that the plan will not result in local layoffs and will allow the local staff to be able to concentrate on walk on clientele, without the nagging sound of the phone in their ears we assume.

The Daily News had the full story in the Monday edition.

People after tickets to the Islands won’t get a local agent
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Monday, January 29, 2007
Page three

Beginning this week, people phoning for reservations on B. C. Ferries Inside Passage and Queen Charlotte island run will be speaking to someone in Victoria, rather than someone on the North Coast.

“The Terminals up north are actually the only ones in the fleet that book reservations. All the reservations on all the other routes are actually done down here at our call centre in Victoria,” said Deborah Marshall, B. C. Ferries spokesperson.

“What we are doing is streamlining the process.”

Customers dialing the local terminal numbers in Skidegate, Prince Rupert, Bella Bella and Port Hardy will now be transferred to Victoria. People wanting to speak with someone at a local terminal will have to go down there personally, because according to an internal memo, the company will not be giving out its new local number to the public.

North Coast MLA Gary Coons said he has received a number of phone calls from people concerned that another portion of the service is being moved down south. Concerns include the possibility of layoffs and inferior service for locals.

However, Marshall said the shift will make service better, allowing staff at local terminals to focus on walk-in clientele. And there will be no decrease in the staffing level.

“There is no impact on our ticket agents, what it does give it is better customer service to their face-to-face customers,” she said. “Right now, they are dealing with the phone as well as the customers who are in person,”

Meanwhile, weather updates, informing passengers of conditions that may impact sailing times, will also be updated from Victoria.

“We certainly will still provide those updates because we those are very important for customers,” she said.

Commercial traffic will also be making their reservations in Victoria. Marshall said they are working a new system out that will allow commercial customers to make reservations quickly but she said the company will be making those arrangements directly with their commercial clients.

Currently, 75 per cent of reservations for the Northern Routes are handled out of Victoria.

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