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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Amtrak honors employees for developing bilingual service desk


Amtrak recently presented Team Leader Irma Garcia and Operations Manager Yolanda Mentz its "2001 President’s Award for Business Diversity" for the women’s development and implementation of Amtrak’s first specialized language desk at Western Reservation Sales Call Center in Riverside, Calif.

The award recognizes workers who consistently demonstrate an appreciation for the value of diverse backgrounds and experience of Amtrak’s employees.

When Amtrak and state of California officials decided to launch bilingual advertising along the railroad’s San Joaquins and Pacific Surfliner routes, they realized they would need bilingual customer service, as well.

Working with Amtrak West customer service agents, Garcia and Mentz created the specialized reservations desk.

Garcia monitored bilingual agents’ calls and listened to Spanish-speaking guests’ needs, then measured the agents’ Spanish language skills. Based on those results, she devised a language test with expected telephone scenarios.

Amtrak officials believe determining the agents’ skills and developing key messages were valuable components in making the call center desk successful, according to a prepared statement.