“Customer experience is key to how you manage your organization because that really should be the apex of your decision-making as you look at maintenance, as you look at operations, as you look at the schedule, as you look at your projects. It all should culminate with the customer experience”, said Clarelle DeGraffe, General Manager of PATH at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, setting the tone for discussion about what’s the most important point for transportation leaders.
Indeed, the subject of the customer is one topic that all three panelists agreed on, as they discussed the importance of listening to their customers and keeping customers at the center of their decision making.
Rich Davey, President of NYC Transit Authority, said that in the past the focus on the industry had been too fixed on assets and operations such as bridges and construction, but that an important change was underway that recognized that the passenger experience needs to be top of mind
Leaders in the industry need to “put the customer first,” he said. “What does that mean? It means listening to them... Let’s focus on their concerns. I think that is so key. Sometimes you’ll be surprised. The customer might want something different than you’ve programmed for.”
DeGraffe added, “The thing we need our customers to know [is that] we care about them. If we didn’t, we would not allow our staff to have worked during the pandemic to make sure they got where they needed to go. That was critical. That was a very important time, I think, in all our lives, to be able to lead through that and deliver that for the city, for New Jersey, for New York.”
Cathy Rinaldi, President of MTA Metro-North Railroad and interim President of Long Island Rail Road, continued: “The employees are unbelievably committed. They care. They try. I mean, they try so hard. You talk about whatever challenges we’ve had, whether it’s been storms or a pandemic, or just the day to day... The employees just bring it every single day.”
Hear how putting the customer first is driving a better experience for New York City passengers: