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SEPTA GM Connects With Customers as Part of Bi-Annual Show Jeff Your Work Day Initiative

Kristin Mestre-Velez
Public Information Manager

SEPTA customers who call the Authority's Contact Center, may hear a friendly voice saying, "Thank you for contacting SEPTA Customer Service, this is Stacey, How may I help you?"

The kind voice that they hear is Customer Service Agent Stacey Shuler. She recently entered the annual "Show Jeff Your Work Day," contest and was selected to have General Manager Jeff Knueppel shadow her for an entire work day. The contest is part of a Building A SEPTA Culture of Service and Creativity (BASCSC) Action Team Three Initiative to build camaraderie between top management and employees.

"I entered the Show Jeff Your Work Day Contest because I wanted him to experience firsthand what Customer Service does in the Contact Center, specifically when dealing with customers over the phone and in person at one of our satellite offices," Stacey said.

In addition to answering phone calls, Stacey fulfills requests for information and spends a portion of her day assisting customers face-to-face inside of the department's satellite office located within SEPTA Headquarters. With the General Manager by her side, she tackled each of her responsibilities effortlessly while taking time to explain everything.

"It's very valuable for me to hear the different requests coming in," Knueppel said. "I can see how tough it can be on our agents who handle so many different calls each day, some by frustrated customers."

Jeff listened in as Stacey responded to calls. She explained, almost half of all calls are from senior citizens: some are trying to understand bus schedules. Others are from customers asking for connection times for different routes, or what time a bus is scheduled to arrive at their stop.

"I like to give customers options when they call," Stacey said. "Since bus schedules list the times for the main destination points along the route, customers will call to board between those points and I like to give them the closest times to their location."

SEPTA uses an Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) system to route calls to the 35 customer service agents manning the phones each day. On an average day, the Contact Center receives approximately 4,500 phone calls. That number can quadruple during special events such as the 2018 Eagles Championship Parade; more than 10,000 calls came into the Contact Center. Stacey handles approximately 200 calls per day.

After answering several calls in the morning, Stacey took Jeff to the customer service department's satellite office location in SEPTA Headquarters to interact with customers in-person. It didn't take long for customers to start coming in. Questions from customers ranged from how to purchase SEPTA Key cards to replacing lost or stolen ones. One senior, who has already made the switch, had lots of questions about the new fare payment technology. Stacey and SEPTA's General Manager answered every question that she had. They later found out that she worked part-time at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. At the end of the conversation, Jeff introduced himself which surprised her.

"How do you like SEPTA?," Jeff said.

The woman replied, "SEPTA works great and I love it."

"I'm SEPTA's General Manager, Jeff Knueppel," he said. "Thank you for riding SEPTA."

Following a successful stint in the customer service department's satellite office location, Stacey showed Jeff how she gathers the schedules requested by customers, and went back to answering phone calls. Stacey explained how the number of calls coming into the Contact Center increase during rush hour. She pointed to a device on the wall adjacent to her that shows when customers are in "queue" waiting to speak with agents. Using internet-based software, Stacey and her fellow agents map out travel routes for customers based on the intersection closest to points of interest that callers provide. The agents can also provide step by step directions if callers need it.

During their discussion, Stacey mentioned that at times, the internet based software that customer service agents rely on to provide customers with real time vehicle information doesn't show all of the buses out on the system. As he listened to Stacey's description of the problem and saw the issue firsthand, Jeff immediately reached out to SEPTA's Chief Information Officer Bill Zebrowski. Bill came to Stacey's work area to explain the progress being made on this matter.

When the day ended, Jeff thanked Stacey for the opportunity to shadow her for the day. "I enjoyed today, Stacey," he said. "It was very valuable for me to hear directly from customers. I heard a number of things that we need to fix. We're a business, and I want things to be right for our customers." In addition to the software issue, Jeff said that he will also be following up on several issues that came up during their time together that he wants resolved.

Stacey smiled, thanked Jeff and added, "You made a lot of customers' day today."


SEPTA Customer Service Agent Stacey Shuler (right) won an Authority-wide employee contest to have General Manager Jeffrey Knueppel (left) shadow her for an entire work day.



While Stacey answered calls from customers, she explained how she uses internet based software to provide customers with real time vehicle information as Jeff listened in.



After answering several calls in the morning, Stacey took Jeff to the customer service department's satellite location in SEPTA Headquarters to interact with customers in-person.