Proactive Planning Makes the Customer Experience

052410busspit5CRIn the borough of Queens, in New York City, we have limited subway service as it is, relying heavily on one train to get to and from Manhattan. This past weekend, the train was shut off entirely for construction. You can imagine the fun that was had trying to get around. There were signs at each subway station and some had yellow “Caution” tape blocking off the entrances, but that was the extent of it.

The NYC MTA set up courtesy shuttles on the border of Queens that took passengers via the street to the usual subway stops. The usual 10 minute train ride now became upwards of 30 minutes. The makeshift street bus stops were unmarked and the only way I knew that it was an actual stop was due to the crowd of people waiting.

I hopped on the ridiculously crowded bus, heading toward Manhattan.

We were stopped at a red light.

A crowd of about 20 people rushed from the other side of the street to the bus stopped at the light.

The bus driver opens his window and begins screaming feverishly over and over–“THE STOP IS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STREET, PEOPLE! DO NOT RUN ACROSS A BUSY STREET.”

He is still screaming as riders board the bus. He gets on the microphone and makes the announcement again, stating that people need to use common sense and that they couldĀ  have been killed. No one pays him any attention, of course; this is NYC after all. Someone behind me laughs and says to his friend, “Well, perhaps if they put a sign where the bus stop was, this wouldn’t happen. There are no signs!”

Witnessing this event, I realized:

The bus driver was concerned about the safety of his riders. He knew that it was his responsibility to get people on the bus and transport them where they needed to go. His yelling at the people running across the street in this situation makes sense. He was reacting to the value of safety.

The entire scene put the bus driver in a sticky situation as well as the people who rushed the bus, as they knew that time wise, they had to catch this one to get to where they needed to be.

After witnessing this event, my mind goes to one thing:

Being Proactive

The MTA notified their riders with general information about the subway being down. But, the MTA did not put signs at the make shift bus stops.

It really does come down to the small things, doesn’t it?

If the MTA would have placed the appropriate signage where it needed to go, it would have avoided people risking their lives to get on the bus (though, I also question the sanity of the people who ran across this street…) and it would not have put the bus driver in a position where he needed to scream at people to remind them to be safe.

Being proactive allows you to plan ahead for events to help your employees provide the best customer experience, despite the circumstances, and for your customers to feel empowered and prepare accordingly.


Jenny Dempsey is currently the the Customer Experience Manager for She's the co-founder and regular contributor over at She's also a self-care coach for customer service agents and leaders at She is the mother to a toothless rescue cat named Chompers. Avocados and veggie tacos are the way to her heart. Hanson fan for life.

One comment

  • Jeremy Watkin

    Great story Jenny. Considering the bus driver as a customer service representative, he really was in a difficult spot. He gets the blame for the MTA delivering a poor customer experience.

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