Tuesday, July 9, 2013

What Do You Do With Customer Service Feedback?

I received this e-mail from Change.org in the mail today...talk about one simple act - way to go Henry!

My name is Henry.

As you may not know, after considerable expense of my time and money and at some cost to the peace in our home, I planted over a thousand flowers at Washington DC's Dupont Circle Metro North Station. Metro ordered me to stop. If I stop, the flowers could die before they bloom.

I was stunned and saddened that I would face “arrest, fines and imprisonment” if I continued to tend to the thousand flowers I planted at the Dupont Circle Metro North Station.

Out of the goodness of my heart, last Fall I planted over 100 bulbs in the very same neglected garden squares. Months later they bloomed, sharing their joy and beauty with fellow Metro Riders.
This Spring I returned. I weeded and two trash bags were filled with more than 300 discarded cigarette butts, shards of glass, wads of gum, tree branches and assorted fast food restaurant garbage.
But Metro doesn't want me there citing various concerns. To help avoid legal concerns, I even offered to sign a waiver to hold Metro harmless. I am willing to work with Metro to explore long term solutions to making the Dupont North Station entrance more attractive.

During this time when our country faces numerous challenges, it does not makes sense to discourage and delay the creation of something beautiful. The world is not as bad as it is often portrayed in the news. This is an opportunity for all of us to make something beautiful.
I hope you will sign my petition. Thank you.

Did Henry follow the proper procedures, probably not.  I honestly don't know what they are or how Henry would have found out what they were if he wanted.  Is there a WMATA policy, procedure, or rule being violated?  Probably.  But can we look deeper at what is going on here for just a minute and try to look for a WIN-WIN solution?

First, WMATA needs to understand that one of its customers is giving it serious feedback.  And it is not just about aesthetics.  Check out the two trash bags of debris he removed.  If WMATA has someone whose job is to keep the area clean that is obviously not being done.  What is more likely is that there is a position for that but it has not been filled due to budget cutbucks.  

Second, WMATA needs to consider the public image of letting all the work and flowers die.  Henry's proactive act probably did cheer up thousands of visitors every day.  Given the mechanical issues WMATA faces, wouldn't it be better if your customers smile before getting to the station and finding a loaded platform with people pushing you this way and that?

Third, Henry's actions are sustainable and repeatable.  Why not use Henry as a poster boy (sorry Henry) for creating community gardens around all the metro stations.  The metro stations already are recognized as community centers, community gardens are a popular trend to give city folks an area to tend, adopt-a-highways in the late 80's started the trend by getting active groups to clean up highways for free, and it would be a huge (positive) PR move for an organization that struggles with constant negative customer feedback.  

I challenge the leadership at WMATA to seek to understand what this customer is telling it and work to find a WIN-WIN solution that is sustainable and repeatable to firmly establish the metro stations as community centers and allow the local communities to take responsibility for keeping it clean and pleasant.  

Let's hear it for Metro's New Adopt-A-Station Community Garden Partnership!  (WMATA, feel free to change the name if you don't like it, just please run with it and put Henry as a committee lead to help other gardens blossom!)

In the meantime, if you want to sign Henry's Petition, Click Here.