My plan to become CSA (please comment)

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welshrailfan

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I would really like to become a customer service assistant for either Network Rail or Arriva Trains Wales. This is because I love trains and have always loved the bustling atmousphere at stations and would love to work in one. I'd have to do a non-safety critical role as I'm colourblind.

However I've pretty much only done care work full time during my 20s and am almost 30 now, although I have done temporary and part time positions working in a bar and and in a supermarket

I'm guessing I need to develop my customer service skills so I was thinking of working in WH smith at a railway station for a year or so because there seems to be lots of jobs working for them. This should mean I'll be confident till operating, dealing with members of the public and will have experience working in a station (albeit in a shop).

What do you think?

I was thinking also of working as a catering steward on a train. Would this be better experience?

Finally my nearest station is Chester but I'm guessing if I'm serious of getting a CSA quickly job I'll probably have to move to a bigger city with bigger stations and more jobs? Thoughts on my whole endeavor?
 
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sw1ller

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Plenty of train cleaner jobs come up at Chester. Arriva are always posting jobs on their "come aboard" website. Keep checking it and apply for as many roles as you can.
 

455driver

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Care work would count well towards customer service, the patients are your customers.
 

TeaTrain

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Hello Welshrailfan,

There is always something popping up in Chester it seems. It might be, as others have said cleaner jobs, trolley staff, barriers or on the ticket desks. Im a conductor at Holyhead so would be nice to bump into some more friendly faces.

The cleaners are a nice bunch and really are gold. But then so is mostly everyone at Chester depot that I interact with.

I think there is quite a high turnaround of trolley staff as from me starting as a conductor 2 years ago until now I have seen so many new faces starting in Chester. I worked in the booking office in Holyhead for a few months also and can say that while it can be monotonous (like any other role) its still rewarding dealing with the public and making their day.

Arriva is very very customer focused no matter what role you apply for. And to be honest you explaining you have worked as a carer will show you have good customer service qualities like patience (need a lot of that sometimes on the railway :roll: ) and good communication skills.

When I applied for the conductor role I also thought I may not be well suited to what the company wanted. I am from an academic art background at The National Gallery and Somerset House in London. One thing I noticed talking to other people on the railway is the variation and life experiences these people who, I say carefully :p ...is quite older than me give me. It really is a job for life and while you unfortunately cant be a guard or driver there a multitude of other possibilities and ATW has always been a good company to me so far.

Good Luck and keep checking the comeaboard website for vacancies!
 

welshrailfan

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True but to really be in with a chance of getting a job I need the most relevant experience possible. I did actually get to a talent pool interview last year with ATW but I completely floundered when I had to show how what to do if a passenger says they were issued the wrong ticket basically because I've never been in that kind of situation before.
 

Gemz91

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True but to really be in with a chance of getting a job I need the most relevant experience possible. I did actually get to a talent pool interview last year with ATW but I completely floundered when I had to show how what to do if a passenger says they were issued the wrong ticket basically because I've never been in that kind of situation before.

Write a list up of everything you think a CSA role involves (dealing with customers, complaints, assisting passengers, emergency situations and so on). Over the next couple of weeks at work, keep the list in mind and when certain situations happen at work think how it'll link with that as a job as a CSA. If need be, when you get home, write out certain events that happened at work that day and compare them to what qualities you think you'll need as a CSA. You might be surprised how many are similar.

Where some will be obvious, others will be less obvious.

Do you get frustrated people in your care, when maybe they can't do stuff them for themselves, so you have to do it for them? They might become frustrated and angry that they can't do it, so you have to keep them calm, could say its similar to dealing with passengers who have been issued with the wrong ticket, because they might become angry so keeping them calm is a key requirement. You wouldn't be expected to know how to deal with the wrongly issued ticket itself (that'd come in training) but they'll be looking at how you interact with the passenger.

You'll be surprised how many key qualities that you have in your current role can be transferred into other areas of work. I used a lot of my experience as a kitchen manager in my interview for a train drivers job.
 

Agent_c

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...but I completely floundered when I had to show how what to do if a passenger says they were issued the wrong ticket basically because I've never been in that kind of situation before.

These sort of Competency based questions are par for the course. Best suggestion I can make is start making a "database" of these questions and have an example ready (something that happened in real world if you can).

Now you've had time to thing about it, what would you do if a passenger asked that question?
 

welshrailfan

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In the interview, the passenger said the date on the ticket was wrong and asked to speak to the staff who issued the ticket. At the time I stated that yes there may have been a mistake made and I could find the staff member to speak to them if the passenger requested.

Now I would state that it's the passenger's responsibility to check the tickets on purchase and that it is for this reason the staff member who issued the ticket could not be at fault and there was no need to see them. However I would then explain changes could possibly be made to the ticket at the present time albeit for a possible fee. I would then explain and assist the passenger with this if they desired and explain the complaints procedure if they requested too.

Naturally I'd be as polite and smiling and calm throughout.

I remember they asked how I'd deal with big queues at the ticket office if there no additional staff. I said I'd apologise to customers and be as quick as possible. i'd also ask if passengers could have their rail cards and methods of payment ready but I couldn't think of much else I could do
 
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Gemz91

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Also if its the hussle and bussle of a station that attracts you to the job, you could see about a role as a station adopter for your local station or see if theres a heritage railway close by to where you live to volunteer at. They wouldn't be paid, but could be something you could consider to do in your spare time instead of a job.
 

tiptoptaff

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May be the odd job popping up soon in Chester, with a few guards passing their Driver assessments, line of progression and all that...
 

metalmickey

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Just to let you know that ATW have just today advertised for CSA'S working Cardiff and the Valleys lines well worth applying for as they've got several vacancies for the year.
 

welshrailfan

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Will do, I'm not holding my hopes up but it's worth a try. In the meantime can anyone recommend any other entry-level jobs that'll provide good experience for the role of a CSA? I want to learn as many solid skills as possible and obtain good experience. The last thing I want to do is blag myself a job as a CSA and be hopeless at it.

I'm thinking:-

Shop assistant
Receptionist
Heritage rail volunteer

Anything else?
 

metalmickey

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Out of curiosity, do CSA's for ATW get paid a shift allowance, noticed on the advert that they work various shifts including nights, weekends and bank holidays
 

scotsman

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Will do, I'm not holding my hopes up but it's worth a try. In the meantime can anyone recommend any other entry-level jobs that'll provide good experience for the role of a CSA? I want to learn as many solid skills as possible and obtain good experience. The last thing I want to do is blag myself a job as a CSA and be hopeless at it.

I'm thinking:-

Shop assistant
Receptionist
Heritage rail volunteer

Anything else?

Anything where you have to deal with the public, work alone and as part of a team, handle cash, or work shifts will all be good preparation.

Also, you shouldn't be applying for jobs thinking that you'll be crap at it. ATW will give you all the training you need - you just need to bring the confidence (or the impression of confidence) that you are good enough. People come to the railway from all sorts of backgrounds, I can't see why you wouldn't do well.
 
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