Customer Service Representatives: Superheroes in Disguise

Woman in jeans and T-shirt whose reflection has a cape on.By Lesli Stone, CAPP

Frontline parking and transportation professionals are in a unique position to be the eyes and ears of the communities they serve. Each  can observe a large number of engaged people in innocuous activities, day in and day out. These countless observations provide the experience and context to determine when things don’t seem quite right.

Providing comprehensive training and empowering our customer service representatives is an important step to providing safe and secure communities. Most of us are familiar with the Department of Homeland Security’s “See Something, Say Something” materials and devote a portion of our training budgets each year to educating our teams on identifying and appropriately reporting suspicious packages and activities. However, we are positioned to see so much more.

Recently at the Coble Transportation Center, customer service representative Erma S. observed a gentleman acting strangely. She made the decision to investigate further. She initiated a conversation with the man and determined that he was confused about his surroundings and situation.

Erma was able to gain the customer’s trust and he handed his phone over for assistance. She was able to identify an emergency contact and made a call to quickly and calmly explain the situation. As it turns out, the gentleman in question suffers from dementia and had been missing for hours. A safe pickup was coordinated and Erma stayed with the man until his concerned family members arrived. She said, “I just handled it as if it was my grandpa.”

While it is impossible to anticipate every situation, we train our drivers and staff to recognize human trafficking, dementia, and cognitive dysfunction, medical emergencies, and a host of other situations they could encounter. When we know better, we can do better. Awareness and training matter.

Lesli Stone, CAPP, is general manager at National Express Transit Corporation.