SMS improves staff scheduling for online language training provider

Pangea Outsourcing Services, a growing Cape Town business offering online English tuition to clients worldwide, found that coordinating staff teaching shifts telephonically or via email was becoming more time consuming for the office manager and adding to the running costs of the company. To reduce Pangea’s operational burden around work scheduling, the company adopted SMS as an administrative tool to effectively manage a large staffing compliment whose primary form of communication was their cellphone.

Pangea is a supplier of Internet-based second language training to Englishtown, one of the world‘s largest providers of English language training whose centre of operations is in the Far East and Europe. Pangea uses voice over IP (VoIP) within virtual classrooms to teach English language skills to clients sitting in front of their computer at home or the office with a headphone.

When Pangea started out they were aware of the need for an effective communication tool in order to be in touch with their teaching staff. When the company had a small staff base this was largely manageable. However, as more staff came onboard as the business has grown, Pangea now needed to communicate with sixty plus staff to ensure that they were aware of their teaching schedules. In particular, the Pangea office manager needed to alert staff of any changes to those schedules but had found that most staff did not have round the clock access to email, especially outside of work hours.

“We were finding it more and more difficult to manage our teaching schedule via email, especially as we grew our staff to meet the demand to accommodate more and more lessons. We decided to look at SMS as an alternative, especially as all our staff had cellphones. We did some market research and selected as their messaging services met our requirements to better manage staff and support our online English training business model,” said Jaco Delport, owner and manager of Pangea.

Pangea implemented a bulk SMS messaging solution that enables their office manager to send SMS messages to groups of staff from a central computer at their offices. The service’s key improvement of Pangea’s business efficiency is that it allows near instant two way communication with the teaching staff to confirm teaching schedules and minimised follow-up telephone calls with staff. The service also provides Pangea with delivery reports, so that the office manager is able to track the sending out of communications. SMS messaging effectively minimised the administration of updated teaching schedules and considerably reduced Pangea’s communications spend.

The benefit to Pangea of a bulks SMS messaging solution was not only a more effective management of its staff communications. It has helped create a company culture with an open communication style that ensures that all staff know their teaching schedule and what is expected from them on a weekly, or even daily, basis. Pangea sends last minute SMS reminders to ensure that staff members arrive at the office on time to start their scheduled classes. If teachers are sick, they notify Pangea at least 4 hours prior to a lesson and an announcement SMS is sent out to the staff to find a teaching replacement.

One of the main reasons that SMS messaging has enabled the business to not only be successful, but to grow, is that the teachers are cellphone savvy. Most staff employed at Pangea are in their first job or are students studying at the local tertiary institutions, and are between the ages of 20 and 25 years. They do not have regular access to email and are not always available telephonically but will always receive an SMS.

“Most of our staff fall within the age group that is technologically minded and open to receiving important information via their cellphone. SMS messaging is second nature for our staff and has become the main way we manage our internal communications and staff scheduling. So, between providing a virtual service online to clients globally and using SMS messaging as an administrative solution, Pangea really has become a place where technology innovation is adding business value,” concludes Delport.