Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What In the Heck Does That Person Do: TSA Customer Support & Quality Improvement Manager (CSQIM)

First off, I decided the use of “A Day in the Life Of” was cliché, so I changed it to “What in the Heck Does That Person Do?” It’s going to be a long running series highlighting various TSA positions across the nation. Our first one was a few weeks ago with Jim’s Transportation Security Inspector post.

For this installment, I reached out to Paul who works with TSA at the Orlando International airport. Paul is the Customer Support & Quality Improvement Manager.

So, what in the heck does he do? Let’s find out…

Blogger Bob: When, why and how should a passenger contact a TSA Customer Support Manager?

Paul: Should travelers require additional information or care to share more detailed concerns or express a compliment related to their experience, they can reach me through the TSA Contact Center, Got Feedback, or complete a Comment Card. Passengers can always leave general feedback on the TSA blog.

Blogger Bob: You mentioned comment cards. Some of our readers in the past have posted comments stating that they were required to show a supervisor their ID prior to receiving a comment card. Should this happen?

Paul: Not that I’m aware of. Passengers are welcome to submit a comment card without fear of retribution. Naturally we do receive a number of ‘anonymous’ cards. We review them and then share comments with the workforce.

Bob: I actually knew the answer to that one in advance. I was just testing you. That’s one of the main things that lit the fire for us to launch Got Feedback. We cringed when we read that passengers were being required to show their ID prior to receiving a comment card. Speaking of Got Feedback, I notice that you’re really active with the Got Feedback program. Your airport is among the top 10 most popular airports in the Got Feedback program. Tell me a little about your experiences with Got Feedback and how the program is working out for Orlando International Airport. Are problems resolved faster when a passenger uses Got Feedback?

Paul: Yes, we do resolve them more efficiently. It provides a quick snap shot of the issue with easy contact info to initiate a reply to the traveler. We receive all types of inquiries: What can I take on a plane, lost items, why was my prohibited item taken, rude, inattentive employees etc. I do want to note that we actually do receive compliments and requests for advance assistance through the passengers with disabilities lane.
Traveler concerns are important to us and we take great pride in working to address their inquiries. Keep in mind that more than 40 million travelers process through the Orlando International Airport annually … that is a LOT of feedback!

Blogger Bob: Which Disney character has the most difficulty with airport security and why?

Paul: Sleepy (For obvious reasons) and Buzz Lightyear because he always needs to undergo secondary inspection. (Can’t divest!)

Blogger Bob: What did you do prior to working for TSA?

Paul: 33 years with the Government. 26 years with US Customs (Law Enforcement, Customs Inspector, Supervisor, Passenger Service Representative) and 7 years with TSA. (Started 2 months after the federal roll out) It’s also important to mention our program assistant Bill has spent 35 years working for the Government. 28 years with the Air Force. (Aircraft Maintenance Manager/stock clerk in grocery store) 7 years with TSA.

Blogger Bob: As a customer support manager, do you coordinate with passengers who have special needs to help make their travel experience a little better?

Paul: We provide support to travelers with special needs as well as to support local community groups. We are sensitive to providing the utmost attention to travelers with disabilities and children who may require special attention as well as wounded soldiers. As this is a tourist destination, you can image that we are busy working to provide necessary support. We also work with our airport stakeholders to coordinate various travel groups. Recently, we became aware of a local high school girls softball team (15th in the country) that was traveling to California for the tournament. We gave them a rousing send off! Our partnership with the airport and the local community has greatly improved the perception / image that travelers have of TSA.

Blogger Bob: I think that’s great that passengers with special needs can plan ahead and coordinate their travel. I’m sure that makes things much easier for all involved. What is the one best piece of advice you could give to a traveler?

Paul: Divest your items before entering the checkpoint.

Blogger Bob: Like what? The usual phones, keys and change? Do people still forget to do this? I imagine that could hold the line up quite a bit.

Paul: Yes … these items still become the most frequently forgotten items. It does impede the throughput quite a bit.

Blogger Bob: How often is a Transportation Security Officer accused of theft by a passenger who later finds the misplaced item and notifies you?

Paul: We rarely hear of this when it happens because they are too embarrassed to call back. One was a contact we received from an older woman who did call back to tell us that the missing envelope containing one thousand dollars was located on her kitchen table when she returned home. Her husband packed the luggage and forgot the envelope!

Blogger Bob: I get to read the incoming Got Feedback emails from all of the airports around the nation and I see this does happen from time to time. I just wanted to add that it’s much appreciated when the passenger calls back to admit the mistake, because it halts investigations and clears any officers who may have been wrongly accused of theft.
Blogger Bob: What is the oddest experience you have had as a TSA Customer Support Manager?

Paul: A traveler called stating that a mouse was found in her checked baggage. She later called back to say that her husband had killed the mouse and her cat placed it next to the laundry pile with all of the unpacked dirty clothes!

Blogger Bob: Ha! I hope it wasn’t Mickey or Minnie. It’s been great talking with you and I’m sure our readers will enjoy our interview. Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. I know you and Bill are extremely busy. By the way, I don’t care what Snopes says, I know Walt Disney is cryogenically frozen in a secret compartment beneath the Magic Kingdom. \
Please note this is not an interview with Blogger Paul from DC. This is an interview with Customer Support Paul in Orlando. ~ Bob