Thursday, 1 March 2012

It's Hard Not To Like The New Guy

First impressions are lasting impressions, and I have yet to meet a single employee in any garage that doesn't have a good first impression of John Manconi. His demeanor validates his reputation of being a straight shooter, trustworthy, and knowledgeable. Simply put, he seems the kind of man that is on the verge of getting Things done.

Having good philosophies and beliefs is not what makes you a better person, your actions do.

Directing that the 60" flat-screen be taken from his office and placed in the staff cafeteria was a great first impression. Seems like a really selfless thing to do, even if the T.V. was a presentation tool rather than a "perk" of his position. Agreeing to postpone and review the current booking is also a great step in staff relations, regardless of whether that was specifically his call. The work board is pretty horrible, take my word for it.

A driver was assaulted this week, a successful defense against two young thugs in the south end. John Manconi apparently phoned the driver at home to talk about the situation. Up until this week, a phone call at home from OC Transpo meant a little white-knuckle time wondering what you may have done wrong. That kind of phone call is appreciated.

Fifty some-odd grievances related to staff discipline have been dropped by the city this week. Co-incidence?

Lastly, the man speaks my language.

“We’re focusing on the customer experience and we know the only way to improve customer experience is if our employees are engaged,” Kanellakos told reporters Monday. 
“I don’t care what business you’re in. If our employees aren’t engaged, you’re not going to have a good customer experience.” 

Source-Ottawa Sun

I have been pushing for this since the inception of this blog. The only way this transit system can truly be great is if ATU local 279 is truly engaged in becoming a union that exists to serve people. Why the union angle? Because we are professionals. Because good collective bargaining begins with good service. Because we have the potential to be indispensable to this city.

The question is, how do we engage our drivers with our managers with the end goal of better customer service? We need to also get our clients engaged. The mechanisms that exist to engage the passenger with management are all negative conduits that depend on the squeaky wheel principle. People call OC Transpo to complain. People rarely call OC Transpo to spread a little butter on the corporate toast.

It's fine and dandy to say we want to get our workforce engaged in better customer service. The company can re-train its entire workforce every few months with every service tactic in the bible of Years Gone By. It simply wont matter if we don't get the customer engaged in the same goals. We need drivers and customers on the same page. After all, they're sharing the bus. When the passenger is late, stuck in traffic, the driver is there, late, stuck in traffic with them. When the passenger misses his bus and is picked up by the next one, the driver is there with them. When the passenger vents frustration... you get the point. We have a unique relationship with our clientele. At one point or another, we must all realize that what connects the passenger's needs to the decisions of management is the driver. It's us, and we need to start listening to what our livelihoods are trying to tell us.

Drivers, if you're still with me, we need to organize our thoughts and goals to shape this new focus on customer service. We don't need more printed pamphlets and meaningless talk. We've had years of failed programs and little progress with our service. Between the escalating assault rates, and the job dissatisfaction statistics, it's high time we begin to look in the mirror at what we can do to improve our workplace.  We need to lobby our union leaders to get on board with this new customer service mandate. We need a hand in shaping new policy, and new objectives.  We need to act as other trade unions do and begin to offer the kind of professional service you just can't get elsewhere. It's not only good for your customers, it is good for collective bargaining. There is so much in it for you, and so much in it for your customers.

Better transit begins in the most overlooked area of public transit: The person holding the steering wheel of your bus. Get involved.

1 comment:

  1. Thank goodness we're moving in the right direction. Maybe the slogan "courtesy and respect: it's a two-way street" is more than just lip service to the new GM.