Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Customer service and what it really means

 In response to THIS  Post:

As a customer service representative we are reminded constantly as to how important customer service is. After all, it's MY job.
But what is absolutely disheartening is being told over and over how important it is...when we depend on "non-customer service" employees to do the job. And when those people fail at providing customer service, we are left to apologize to the customer (which doesn't necessarily work) and take the blame.
This is exactly what is going on at TriMet. Case in point:
Immediately contact the Operations Command Center (Dispatch/Control) if there is a situation on your vehicle or on district property that requires an emergency response or if a situation is creating a safety concern.
So, what happens when Dispatch is called, and the Dispatcher replies "too bad"? The Dispatcher, a TriMet Management Employee and a "non-customer service" employee, basically put the Operator on the spot and didn't back them up - right or wrong. The Dispatcher is the one that failed; the Dispatcher is the one that should be on an unpaid administrative leave, the Dispatcher is the one that Mary Fetsch should be repeating the name and saying how bad and awful of an employee she is...but no - it's the Operator who takes 100% of the blame.
I depend on dozens of people to help the customer. I might be the first contact, but I'm not the one that reads the electric meter, sets the meter, installs the transformer, or restores the power during an outage. I'm not the one that cuts the trees, drives the truck, or shovels coal into a dump truck to put it in a boiler. Everyone has a job to play, and if one person doesn't do their part the customer doesn't have power. I can take the call, be as sympathetic to the customer, get the outage order out...but customer service is EVERYONE'S job.
TriMet is no exception. The Dispatcher failed to send a Supervisor. The Supervisor that overheard the call didn't respond. TriMet's Management has proven time and time again that customer service is not their job. TriMet's job, in the eyes of everyone from Neil McFarlane down, is that "We're here to build light rail lines." I have asked repeatedly that TriMet stand down, and take an inward view of its business. That is - providing transit service to the citizens of our region.
That means:
1. Delivering service.
2. Ensuring service is reliable.
3. Ensuring service is on schedule.
4. Ensuring service is safe.
5. Having contingency plans when the above cannot happen.
(In no particular order; they are all equal.)
And when something happens, there needs to be a culture of ownership. Instead of "That's not my job" the answer should be "Let me get on it." Neil McFarlane shouldn't be passing off everything to Mary Fetsch. Mary Fetsch shouldn't be playing the "Which Operator can I blame today" game which she has proven to be a master of. The Operators need support from Management. If they screw up, fine, but instead of playing the public blame game - just fix the problem and move forward.
Memos don't fix problems. Creating cultures of customer service do. TriMet already has failed at the "culture of safety" initative, so I simply have no faith in TriMet's ability to resolve this problem either.

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