Integrate WMATA customer service in departments
WMATA should integrate customer service staff within its Office of Information Technology, Bus Operations and MetroAccess, just like it did with Rail Operations in 2005.
Integrating customer service into Rail Operations has allowed those employees to gain additional knowledge and access, helping them ask better questions and obtain better answers for customers. When Rail Operations has a meeting, the customer service representatives are included. They see each other in the hallway.
In the other areas, customer service is a separate division. It's more "out of sight, out of mind." There's a barrier between operations and the customer service staff. And it serves to seriously limit the effectiveness of customer service.
Without being integrated and with less knowledge, they act more like funnels. But integrated and more knowledgeable, they're more able to be advocates.
The caseload for centralized customer service staff is insanely high. I recently used the online trip planner for a simple journey to Tenleytown. It didn't work, so I emailed customer service. Two weeks later, they responded: I had misspelled "Albemarle."
Metro might take a cue from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). The Toronto Transit Commission is examining changes SEPTA recently made to improve customer service following "rider frustration over a lack of accountability, rude staff and poor customer service."
SEPTA installed dedicated customer service kiosks in subway stations. I don't know how well this is working in Philadelphia. But it connects riders with customer service staff who are not stationed in a central office isolated from operations.
More than one WMATA employee has shared with me that their training and retraining give only superficial attention to customer service. Leadership needs to do more than say customer service is important. They have to make it important.
When will WMATA's leadership come to understand just how important customer service is? It has a huge impact on how Metro runs, on rider satisfaction and on the inclination of riders to press federal, state and local governments to increase funding of WMATA.
- Young kids try to assault me while biking
- Focus transportation on downtown or neighborhoods?
- Metro bag searches aren't always optional
- Endless zoning update delay hurts homeowners
- DDOT agrees to repave 15th Street cycle track
- Redeveloping McMillan is the only way to save it
- Vienna Metro town center won't have a town center