Like most airports, Dallas-Fort Worth International has an operations center to monitor everything happening out on the airfield.
But for the past two years, DFW has been beefing up another type of behind-the-scenes center.
This one is called the Experience Hub and its role is to keep watch over everything happening inside the terminals, to respond as swiftly as possible to any sort of passenger issue and to solve problems before they happen.
Every airport will tell you it has people and departments to do all that. However, DFW officials believe their customer experience hub is a unique and more effective way to serve its more than 69 million passengers, in part because it has centralized many functions that were previously spread out across departments and locations.
“Everybody here has responsibility driven by making the customer experience the best it can be,” said Julio Badin, DFW’s vice president of customer service, during a recent tour of the windowless, 7,000-square-foot room in Terminal D that houses representatives from just about every customer-facing agency or department at the airport and dozens of monitors streaming data and live terminal feeds.
“This group is focused on all the things that touch the customer,” said Badin, pointing out staff checking on everything from the weather and airline load factors to TSA lines, baggage room operations, custodial schedules, restroom maintenance needs and mentions of DFW on social media.
The hub, located on the non-secure side of the airport in Terminal D, is staffed 24 hours a day and has a conference table in the center and low-lit workstations (to avoid monitor glare) for about 20 people around the perimeter.
Two officers from the Transportation Security Administration’s planning department are chatting about what they see on the monitors at their workstation. Their job: to study projected passenger numbers from the airlines, observe the wait times at the airport’s various security checkpoints and decide how and when to open additional lanes, move staff around and send in teams of bomb-sniffing canines with their handlers to help speed things up.
“The planning team is the guts behind how well the TSA checkpoints work,” said DFW’s Badin, who was pleased that the TSA accepted the airport’s invitation to locate this team here.
Sitting nearby the TSA planners are customer care specialists who spend their days answering passenger questions, solving problems for travelers and monitoring and responding to social media messages or mentions.
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