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New group managing customer care at Hartsfield-Jackson

By Maria Jose Subiria

msubiria@news-daily.com

While the world's busiest airport may be a breeze for some passengers to navigate, it can be difficult for others.

To help out those who may need assistance getting to gates because of a disability, or just need directions, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport uses a staff of customer care representatives.

The management of those roughly 60 staffers was turned over in mid-January to ICS Contract Services, which took the helm promising to put their team through rigorous training and quality-control checks.

ICS President Ron Willis says while other changes are in the works, the first thing passengers may notice is that representatives are wearing name tags emblazoned with the statement "I can help."

"The first thing we want them to do is smile and say 'Welcome to Hartsfield-Jackson, how can I help you?'" Willis said.

ICS Contract Services also oversees the janitorial work for airlines operating at Hartsfield-Jackson.

The company partnered with the staffing agency Airport Employment and Training Center, Inc., to screen and hire customer care employees.

"Having mostly full-time employees allows them to be more invested in the program, and allows us to provide them with more consistent training," said Jan Lister, the airport's customer care manager.

Since 1998, the customer care representatives have been answering questions, giving directions, and helping transport travelers who need assistance through the airport.

"They are the face of that airport," Willis said.

Airport officials say passengers' experience at Hartsfield-Jackson is a top priority. Last year, the airport completed a $26 million upgrade to security checkpoints, which included the addition of 10 new lanes to speed up wait times.

Last year, 90 million passengers traveled through Hartsfield-Jackson, and the Federal Aviation Administration ranked it the nation's busiest airport in terms of takeoffs and landings.

Shawnalea Garvin, president of AETC, said training ensures customer care representatives are prepared to help.

"We give them an airport 101, and do role-playing," she said. "During role-playing, we teach them different situations in how to approach customers."