PTE customer services are always busy handling queries from test takers across the globe. This year however has posed a whole new challenge for the team, with COVID-19 affecting candidates in key markets from Australia to China to India and beyond.

Sarah Holland, PTE Senior Operations Manager answers our questions on the role her Customer Service team played in tackling the pandemic during 2020.

1. What are the main challenges you and your team have faced this year around COVID-19?

This was something we never envisaged being involved in – a worldwide pandemic. Our immediate priority and the one that remained key for us throughout the year was making sure test takers were informed of what was going on.

In a way communicating about countrywide lockdowns was easier than regional lockdowns. For regional lockdowns, such as the one in Victoria, Australia, there are more complications and logistics to cover, i.e. which centers are staying open, which ones are closing, how long for, how many test takers are affected and so forth.

2. How did you work with Pearson VUE, who run the test center delivery for PTE?

We worked very closely with Vue on communicating to test takers the various safety measures being put in place– such as hand sanitizers, mask wearing, social distancing, regular deep cleans. We were, and are, in contact with VUE on a daily basis to ensure our test takers are being kept up to speed on issues – which can change practically every day!

We also worked with Vue to create a new rescheduling policy for those candidates who could not attend their test appointment due to center closures – we put test takers into virtual ‘dummy’ centers where they had up to 90 days from their original date to sort an alternative date, for free.

3. PTE testing opened up in China ahead of our competitors – explain a little how we managed to do this?

The biggest thing here was how quickly we managed to open up additional temporary test centers, so we had capacity to backfill the demand. At one point, in the height of the summer, we had around 29 temporary test centers operating in China to meet the backlog.

4. What were the main questions you received from test takers this year?

Pretty much all COVID-19 related, such as around the rescheduling process, test center availability, mask-wearing and safety measures.

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