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What a Train Conductor Taught All of Us About Customer Service

What a Train Conductor Taught All of Us About Customer Service
Image credit: Daniel Case

A conductor for New York-area commuter line Metro-North has taken the concept of customer service to a whole new level.

Michael Shaw had told passengers at several stations last week that they should wait for an express train rather than get on his. That express train, though, was cancelled, causing delays for hundreds of commuters.

So what did Shaw do? He typed out a written apology and placed 500 copies on the seats of his train Monday.

Shaw, who serves as president of one of Metro-North's unions, said in an interview with the Associated Press that he wanted to make it a personal apology, rather than one coming from the train line. 

"I just did my own letter," he said. "I know a lot of the passengers."

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In doing so, Shaw did the basic blocking and tackling of good customer service. He owned up to an error, apologized directly and addressed it in person.

However, his boss, Metro-North, is not amused, since the apology suggested the line cancelled the train without properly notifying its customers. Marjorie Anders, a spokeswoman for Metro-North, told the AP the rail service shares Shaw's concerns, but does "not condone his methods of communicating them."

"Mr. Shaw made assumptions about train service based on his long experience, but Metro-North operations managers can and do make changes based on the conditions they encounter," she said in an email to the AP.

Here's a local television story about the conductor and his unusual approach to his clientele.

 

Related: Virgin Atlantic Is Using Google Glass to Greet Customers

Ray Hennessey is Editorial Director of Entrepreneur.com.

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