In an average year, OHIO811 onboards more than a dozen new Customer Service Representatives (CSR). As the organization’s frontline of interaction with tens of thousands of excavators, homeowners, and utility operators, their training is one of OHIO811’s most important, yet challenging and time-consuming tasks. It’s a critical investment in the fulfillment of OHIO811’s mission and commitment to the industry, with an average training timeline exceeding six weeks.

OHIO811 continuously seeks to harness technology in the efficient and effective delivery of services to the utility and excavation industry and our employees. Through the strategic planning process, the development of a Learning Management System (LMS) was identified as an opportunity to simultaneously decrease CSR onboarding time, while enhancing the consistency, quality and measurability of training efforts.

During 2019, OHIO811 partnered with 4iQ to develop its inaugural LMS based training program for CSRs. The goal was to create a self-paced, measurable course that would streamline the process and shorten the time it takes to have a new CSR performing on their own. As OHIO811’s longtime trainer, Karey Fantone has developed a comprehensive training course that includes sections on what information is needed to enter a utility locate request into the Newtin System, how to use the mapping tools to determine which member utilities would receive the request, and most importantly, how to provide exceptional customer service skills. This training program became the foundation for the online course.

The CSR training course is divided into 4 modules. Module one takes you through the basic information needed to complete a locate request ticket. Module two teaches a CSR how to map the information that was provided about the dig site. Module three describes in detail the different types of tickets that can be processed through the Newtin System and last but not least, module four trains on how to provide exceptional customer service.

The recent hiring of three new CSRs offered the perfect opportunity to take the new online course for a test drive. All three newbies were set up to take the course and once completed, they met with Karey in person for additional training that included the processing of practice utility locate requests. Karey was impressed by the new CSRs’ expedited level of comprehension. “I couldn’t believe how much the online course helped our new team members understand the process and the tools necessary to complete a locate request. I would usually have to coach those who completed our classroom training on the proper use of the tools and buttons in our software, but for the most part, they already knew those things.” The implementation of LMS technology had the new CSRs on their own in under three weeks, dramatically cutting the training time in half.

LMS is proving to be a robust, effective tool in OHIO811’s continuous efforts to maximize operational efficiency and effectiveness by leveraging technology. A second course, supporting the onboarding of new board members, is in initial development. OHIO811 is excited about this virtual course as the avenue to provide critical information about the organization to newly elected board members. Future plans for LMS include the training of new OHIO811 members on the organization’s various systems and the possibility of leveraging the tool for a statewide expansion of OHIO811’s elementary school-targeted Sammy Shovel educational program.

Through the utilization of LMS technology, OHIO811 will continue to enhance its flexibility and efficiency in the delivery of in-person and virtual training benefiting its employees, member utilities and Ohio’s excavation community. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, OHIO811 quickly began to realize the unique advantages that an LMS would bring to their business.